By Joe McDonald
BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks declined Friday after soaring U.S. job losses tempered enthusiasm about a possible deal to stabilize oil prices amid anxiety over the global economic decline due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Markets in London and Frankfurt traded lower while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney closed down. Tokyo ended little-changed after spending part of the day in negative territory.
Some markets followed Wall Street higher after President Donald Trump said on Twitter he expected major oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia to back away from their price-cutting war. But by midday, most Asian markets had retreated again.
U.S. data showing 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment this week were a “hard dose of economic reality,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.
That was double the previous week’s record-breaking U.S. job losses of 3.3 million. It raised the total number of Americans who are out of work due to the coronavirus-driven downturn to almost 10 million.
On Friday, the government’s monthly jobs report is due and is expected to show that the American jobs machine came to a sudden halt in March as a result of the coronavirus. Economists have forecast employers shed about 150,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate rose from a half-century low of 3.5% to 3.9%, according to FactSet.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 in London sank 1.1% to 5,420 and Frankfurt’s DAX shed 0.3% to 9,5537. The CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.9% to 4,182.
On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were both off 0.9%.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 gained 2.3% after Trump said he expects production cuts are coming after talking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.2% and the Nasdaq rose 1.7%.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 2,763.99 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.5 points to 17,820.19. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.2% to 23,236.11 after falling as much as 0.8% earlier.
The Kospi in Seoul ended unchanged at 1,725.44 after being down 0.6%. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 1.7% to 5,067.50 and India’s Sensex lost 1.9% to 27,727.19.
Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.30 to $26.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $2.32 to $32.26 per barrel in London.
Markets usually welcome lower energy costs for companies and consumers. But the abrupt plunge to below $20 this week from $60 at the start of the year triggered fears heavily indebted producers might default, undermining credit markets.
On Thursday, U.S. crude surged $5.01, or almost 25%, to $25.32 per barrel following Trump’s comments. The Kremlin denied President Vladimir Putin had talked with the prince but Saudi Arabia called for a meeting of major producers including Russia.
Traders expect more volatility in financial markets until numbers of new coronavirus cases begin to decline, which forecasters say might be weeks away.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has topped 1 million, led by the United States with more than 236,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 51,000 have died, but more than 208,000 have recovered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The dollar edged up to 108.54 yen from Thursday’s 107.90 yen. The euro declined to $1.0793 from $1.0856
Source: AP News