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Stocks Fall Sharply As Trump Warns Of A ‘Painful Two Weeks’ Ahead

(Updated 9:34 a.m. EDT, April 1, 2020)

Topline: Markets fell at the open on Wednesday, the first day of the second quarter, after President Trump warned of a “very tough two weeks” ahead as the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis. 

  • At Thursday’s open, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 4.1%, more than 890 points, while the S&P 500 was down 3.8% and the Nasdaq Composite 3.1%.
  • It’s the second-worst start of a quarter in the history of the S&P 500 index, according to Bespoke Investment Research, surpassed only by the first trading day of 1932, when the S&P 500 tumbled 6.9% to start the quarter.  
  • U.S. private companies cut 27,000 jobs last month, according to ADP’s National Employment Report; this was before the worst of the coronavirus slowdown hit the U.S. economy. 
  • All of those losses came from small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees), which cut 90,000 jobs; medium and large businesses added a cumulative total of 63,000 jobs. 
  • At a press briefing last night, President Trump warned that the United States should prepare for a “very tough two weeks;” White House officials are now predicting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the virus.

What to watch for: Weekly jobless claims will be reported on Thursday, April 2, 2020, and the March jobs report will be released by the Labor Department on April 3, 2020.

Key background: The United States is still scrambling to contain the rapidly worsening outbreak. Confirmed infections surpassed 189,000 as of Wednesday morning, and more than 4,000 people have died.

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