Another wave of jobless claims sent the six-week total above 30 million amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, helping push the three major U.S. stock market indexes downward after a month-long rally, plus more in today’s Closing Bell on Money & Markets.

The Top Story

The Department of Labor said another 3.84 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week while consumer spending for the month of March dipped 7.5% year over year, pushing investors to take profits from April’s  monster rally.

More people out of work means less spending, all of which comes as businesses across the country have been forced to shutter due to lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. Stocks also felt some pressure from across the pond after the European Central Bank said it’s ready to step up its emergency asset purchase program — but traders were hoping the ECB would announce an actual increase.

Investors also are taking a long, hard look at mixed quarterly earnings reports (more below).

“There was horrific data, and several numbers that were abysmal,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel. “On the other hand, we’ve had a great month in April and people are taking some money off the table.”

Wall Street came into today’s session on pace to close out one of the best month’s in decades. The S&P 500 came in up more than 12% in April, which would have been its biggest month since 1987, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average came in up 10.5% for the month, which would have been its best since 2002.

The three indexes have pulled within 20% of February’s record highs after the coronavirus crash.

The Dow fell 1.2% while the S&P 500 sank 0.9%. The Nasdaq also fell 0.3%, but all three indexes notched their best months in decades.

Stock Market Update: Closing Bell*

S&P 500: 2,912 (-0.9%)
DOW: 24,345 (-1.2%)
NASDAQ: 8,889 (-0.9%)
GOLD: $1,693.10 (-1.2%)
BITCOIN: $8,845.11 (+0.1%)
U.S. 10-YEAR YIELD: 0.646% (+0.019)

*- as of 5:35 p.m.

A Big Win

This morning we told you to watch out for big dips coming for Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Chesapeake Energy Co. (NYSE: CHK), and it was a brutal day for them both.

Chesapeake cratered 32% after Reuters reported late Thursday the oil and gas production company was preparing for a potential bankruptcy.

Twitter sank after a 27% drop in ad revenue from March 11 to March 31 as less companies are advertising due to the ongoing pandemic amid nationwide lockdowns.

Golden Nuggets

Gold sank Thursday, dipping about 1.2% by 5:35 p.m. EDT. But fear not, gold bugs, as massive amounts of stimulus from governments around the world will likely soon push the precious metal back up.

Silver also saw a dip Thursday, falling about 1.6%, and copper also fell about 0.8%.

On the positive side of precious metals, platinum is looking about a 0.8% gain for the day, and palladium is up about 1.4%.

Cannabis Corner

It was not a good day for cannabis stocks, even with Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, calling for federal legalization, noting that states deemed marijuana businesses “essential” amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is in stark contrast to federal law.

The senator responded to a question on Facebook asking why Congress has failed to act on legalization while individual states regard the industry as necessary.

“I cannot tell you how much I agree with you, Tom,” Booker said. “There are people throughout this country right now who have PTSD from their military service, children falling into seizures with things like Dravet Syndrome, not able to access this drug — this lifesaving drug for some people. Enough is enough.

“We need to end this federal prohibition.”

Earnings Season a Mixed Bag

Quarterly earnings season is pulling full-steam ahead with 236 of the companies in the S&P 500 reporting so far. About two-thirds of those companies have actually surprising upside to estimates, according to data from Refinitiv.

But there also have been 90 negative pre-announcements during Q1 compared to just 40 positive. Analysts say aggregate S&P earnings dropped by 14.4% year over year in the first quarter of 2020, Refinitiv said.

“On most earnings calls (companies are) saying this quarter is going to be terrible and they have absolutely no idea what the rest of the year is going to look like,” Tuz added. “There are too many uncertainties.”

Two behemoths, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), are set to announce earnings today after the closing bell.

Fed Announces Lending Program Expansion

The U.S. Federal Reserve announced today it will broaden its “Main Street Lending Program” and lower the minimum loan size while also expanding eligibility, which helped stocks pare some losses.

Today’s Big Winners:

(as of 3:50 p.m. EDT)


ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE:NOW) +8.6%

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) + 5.1%

Today’s Big Losers:

(as of 3:50 p.m. EDT)

Tapestry Inc. (NYSE:TPR) -13.8%

Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) -12.1%

Molson Coors Beverage Co. (NYSE:TAP) -10.8%

Check back for the most important news and numbers each day after the Closing Bell, only on Money & Markets