The central question for United States investors is, “What good is opening economies if consumers are unwilling or able to shop?” Trade tensions with China and bleak US payroll data are casting a shadow over the opening of the US economy. The only bright spot in the US stock market on Wednesday was big technology companies that are benefiting from shifting consumer behaviour.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 200 points or 0.8 percent to end at 23,664.64. The widely used gauge of US retirement and education savings accounts, the S&P 500, dipped 0.7 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.5 percent.
Technology companies that are helping consumers abide by stay-at-home orders were the biggest winners today. Apple ended up 1.6 percent. NVIDIA finished higher at 2.16 percent. Amazon is up1.44 percent. Facebook rose 0.7 percent and Netflix ended the day 2.3 percent higher.
Daunting unemployment numbers decreased investor optimism.
US private employers laid off a record 20.236 million workers in April as mandatory business closures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak savaged the economy. The US Department of Labor’s more comprehensive report for April is due on Friday.
Despite hopes by oil investors that the reopening of some states will boost driving and thereby boost demand for gasoline, the price of oil closed lower. West Texas Intermediate fell 1.67 percent to settle at $24.15 a barrel in New York. Brent declined 3.45 percent to settle at $29.86 a barrel.
Still, it is worth noting that fuel demand is picking up in states that have loosed coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
Also putting downward pressure on the markets is uncertainty surrounding a US-China trade deal. During the trading session, US President Donald Trump said China may or may not keep the trade deal.