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U.S. Stocks Slump After Fauci, Fed Set Somber Tone: Markets Wrap

Rita Nazareth
U.S. Stocks Slump After Fauci, Fed Set Somber Tone: Markets Wrap

(Bloomberg) -- Stocks tumbled after a U.S. health official warned against a premature reopening of the economy and as traders assessed a dire outlook from Federal Reserve regional chiefs. Treasuries and the dollar climbed.

The S&P 500 extended losses as Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said states reopening too quickly could “set you back on the road on trying to get economic recovery.” Meanwhile, some central bank officials said the virus outbreak and a partial shutdown would risk massive bankruptcies that could create a lasting scar. The Fed could curtail Wall Street banks’ ability to pay dividends by cranking up the amount of capital they need to maintain due to the coronavirus crisis, Governor Randal Quarles said Tuesday.

“You will get business failures on a grand scale and you will be taking risks that you would go into depression” if shutdowns persist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said in a video speech from that city Tuesday. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari warned of a “gradual, muted recovery” from the outbreak, while Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said the economy will need more fiscal stimulus if the jobless rate continues to rise.

The disastrous fallout of business closures and stay-at-home orders caused an unprecedented 20.5 million job losses in April, tripling the unemployment rate to 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression era of the 1930s. A key measure of U.S. consumer prices declined last month by the most on record. A sustained trend of declining prices would spur worries about deflation, exacerbating concern that the recovery from the deep economic downturn will be very slow.

Buyers of U.S. stocks after the economy shrank in the first quarter have history on their side, according to Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Private Wealth Management. Gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 4.8%, marking the 13th quarterly decline of more than 4% since 1949, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. After each previous instance, the S&P 500 gained more than 10% during the next 12 months.

Here are some key events coming up:

OPEC gives its monthly oil market report on Wednesday.U.S. weekly jobless claims data is due Thursday.China on Friday releases industrial production and retail sales data for April.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

The S&P 500 decreased 2.1% as of 4 p.m. New York time.The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3%.The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dipped 0.7%.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.1%.The euro climbed 0.4% to $1.0849.The Japanese yen strengthened 0.4% to 107.19 per dollar.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined five basis points to 0.66%.Germany’s 10-year yield rose one basis point to -0.51%.Britain’s 10-year yield declined two basis points to 0.249%.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell 0.4%.West Texas Intermediate crude rose 6.4% to $25.69 a barrel.Gold climbed 0.5% to $1,705.80 an ounce.

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