Stocks – Wall Street Pares Early Losses as Oil Stays Center Stage

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Investing.com — U.S. stock markets pared early losses on Friday to trade narrowly mixed, after government data suggested that the U.S. economy shed jobs faster than widely expected as the Covid-19 started to hit.

By 10:05 AM ET (1405 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 14 points, or 0.1%, while the S&P 500 was up 0.1% and the NASDAQ Composite was up 0.2%. As such, all three were on course for what would be – in the context of recent volatility – modest losses for the week of less than 2%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics had said earlier that non-farm employment in the U.S. fell by 701,000 in the month to mid-March, far more than the 100,000 drop expected.

Even those data have been largely rendered meaningless by the record spike in jobless claims in the two weeks since the cut-off date for the BLS’s report. In those two weeks, some 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.

The standout outperformer was Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which said after the bell on Thursday that it had delivered 88,400 cars in the first quarter. The company noted that it deliveries of its Model Y crossover SUV had begun in January and continued ‘well ahead of schedule.’ Tesla stock rose 11.0%.

Carnival (NYSE:CCL) shares rose 8.9% as the market digested the cruise line operator’s mammoth refinancing earlier in the week. 

Oil producers were also in the spotlight again, as newswire reports appeared to show the makings of a global agreement to cut oil supplies and rebalance a market that is struggling badly with oversupply due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The OPEC+ group of oil exporters, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, is set to hold a virtual meeting on Monday, while President Donald Trump is set to meet with representatives of the U.S. oil industry later Friday. Newswires reported a draft proposal from OPEC that Saudi Arabia was prepared to cut at least 3 million barrels a day of production, and Russia 1.5 million, if other producers such as the U.S., Canada and Brazil cut 2 million b/d.

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) stock was up 3.8%, off earlier highs, while Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) stock was up 1.4% and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) stock was up 0.3%. U.S. crude futures were also off earlier highs but were still up 5.1% at $26.62 a barrel, their highest in over a week.

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