Stocks mixed … Another 1.9 million seek jobless aid … Productivity down, trade deficit up
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are mixed in early trading on Wall Street as the market takes a pause following its longest winning streak in nearly four months. The government reported that the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment benefits eased for a ninth straight week, but economists saw pockets of disappointment after the total number of people getting benefits rose slightly. That number had dropped the prior week, which had raised hopes that some companies were rehiring workers.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Nearly 1.9 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that many employers are still cutting jobs even as the gradual reopening of businesses has slowed the pace of layoffs. The total number of people who are receiving jobless aid rose slightly to 21.5 million, down from a peak of nearly 25 million two weeks ago but still at a historically high level. It shows that scattered rehiring is offsetting only some of the ongoing layoffs with the economy mired in a recession. The latest weekly number is still more than double the record high that prevailed before the viral outbreak.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. productivity fell at a 0.9% rate in the first three months of this year, a smaller decline than first estimated, while labor costs rose at a slightly faster pace. The Labor Department reported Thursday that the first-quarter decline in productivity was smaller than the initial estimate a month ago of a 2.5% drop. Labor costs rose at a 5.1% rate, slightly faster than the 4.8% increase first reported. Productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, has lagged over the past decade, a troubling development that economists have been unable to adequately explain. Productivity is the key to rising living standards and the slow pace of growth in recent years has been a major reason that wage gains have lagged.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit rose in April to the highest level in eight months as American commerce with other countries plummeted in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The Commerce Department said Thursday that the gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad jumped to $49.4 billion in April, up 16,7% áfrom $42.3 billion in March and highest since last August. April exports fell 20.% to $151.3 billion, and imports dropped 13.7% to $200.7 billion. Total trade – exports plus imports – dropped 16,7% in April from March and 24.8% from April 2019.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The European Central Bank has boosted its pandemic emergency support program by 600 billion euros to about $1.5 trillion. The move is an effort to keep affordable credit flowing to the economy during the steep downturn caused by the virus outbreak. The central bank for the 19 countries that use the euro also extended the monetary stimulus program to at least the end of June next year, from the end of 2020 currently.