Stocks push higher despite dismal news…More than 4 million apply for jobless aid…New home sales plunge
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are pushing higher in morning trading on Wall Street, even though the government said 4.4 million more workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The S&P 500 was up 1.3% in the early going, following similar gains in European and Asian markets. That was despite a deluge of more dismal economic data. Besides the weekly jobless claims report, preliminary data on manufacturing and services in Europe and the United States came in below expectations. Investors have already braced for a severe recession due to the coronavrius pandemic, and some are looking ahead to the prospect of parts of the economy reopening as infections level off in some areas.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Labor Department says more than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down. Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.
WASHINGTON (AP) – New home sales plunged 15.4% in March as coronavirus-related shutdowns began to rattle the housing market. The Commerce Department reports that sales of new single-family homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 last month after sales had fallen 4.6% in February. The decline was in line with expectations with economists forecasting further sharp declines in coming months as the country struggles with a shutdown that has thrown millions of people out of work and disrupted wide swaths of the economy.
LONDON (AP) – A closely watched survey indicates that Europe’s economies are heading for unprecedented recessions as a result of the lockdown measures put in place by governments to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The scale of the declines recorded in monthly surveys of business managers is staggering, worse even than the most pessimistic forecasts. Economists estimate that the economy of the 19-country eurozone is shrinking at a quarter-on-quarter rate of 7.5%. European Union leaders are discussing a rescue support package worth 540 billion euros, or $587 billion.
CHICAGO (AP) – A once-bustling Chicago bar and grill famously inspired a “Saturday Night Live” skit starring John Belushi and Bill Murray. But the money the Billy Goat Tavern is losing during the coronavirus outbreak is no joke. The tavern and millions of other shuttered businesses nationwide have turned to their insurers to help recoup their losses following state-mandated closures. But insurers have widely rejected the claims, saying pandemics are uninsurable. So the Billy Goat has joined a growing line of businesses including barbershops and casinos suing insurers to force them to pay. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association estimates that as many as 30 million small businesses could submit virus-related claims worth up to $430 billion.