US stocks fell sharply on the last day of April amid some profit-taking following another series of dismal economic data. The Labor Department data showed that another 3.84 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, while consumer spending dropped 7.5% in March. The European Central Bank refrained from increasing its emergency asset purchase program, which added to the negative investor sentiment. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1.2% lower, the S&P 500 slid 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.3%.
Today in Asia, stocks in Japan and Australia slipped while markets in China, Hong Kong, and South Korea were closed on Friday for holidays. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 5.01% while the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 2.84%. On the data front, exports in South Korean plunged by over 24% in March, the sharpest contraction in nearly ten years.
European stocks were mostly down on Friday after Donald Trump’s threat to impose new tariffs on China over the coronavirus crisis. Also on the negative side, the UK manufacturers suffered the biggest fall in output and orders for at least three decades in April. As a result, the UK’s FTSE 100 declined over 2%. Of note, as many European markets closed for a public holiday, trading volumes were fairly thin.
Wall Street stocks opened in the red after Apple and Amazon reported weak earnings that highlighted the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the global business.
In other markets, the dollar was trading in a mixed manner on the last trading day of the week. EURUSD climbed above the 50-DMA and registered fresh local highs marginally below the 1.10 psychological handle. US ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index plunged to 41.5 from 49.1 versus 36.9 expected. As for the details of the report, the employment index dipped to 27.5 from 43.8 and the new orders index declined to 27.1 from 42.2.
In commodities, gold prices continued to lose ground after a decent sell-off witnessed on Thursday. The precious metal dipped to the $1,670 area, then trimmed losses but stayed in the red on the daily charts, suggesting the downside pressure will persist for some time.
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