US stocks closed on a mixed note overnight as investors digested the latest economic data and virus-related developments. Jobless claims made in the week ended April 18 reached 4.4 million. As a result, the five-week total claims exceeded 26 million. IHS Markit’s composite index plunged to 27.4 from 40.9 in March, the fastest monthly decline since 2009 when the series began. The additional pressure came from the reports that the drugmaker Gilead’s coronavirus treatment was mistakenly uploaded to the WHO website.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.2%, the S&P 500 added less than 0.1% while the Nasdaq Composite ended the session virtually unchanged. For the week, the Dow is down 3%, the S&P 500 is off 2.7% and the Nasdaq has declined 1.8%.
Asian equities were lower on Friday as investors were disappointed by the fact that at Gilead Sciences’ drug remdesivir did not improve coronavirus patients’ condition. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.8%, South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.4%, the Shanghai Composite in China lost 0.5%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend and gained 0.48%.
In Europe, stocks turned lower after two bullish sessions, after the European Union authorities failed to agree on a stimulus package amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The news that the European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned that the region’s economy could contract up to 15% this year in a worst-case scenario added to downbeat sentiment in the market.
Elsewhere, EURUSD extended losses after the EU summit and refreshed one-month lows around 1.0725. The pair then bounced partially but remained on the defensive. On the data front, the German IFO business climate index came in at 74.3 in April, missing the consensus estimates of 80.0. The current economic assessment arrived at 79.5 points versus 81.0 anticipated.
Meanwhile, oil prices resumed the decline after a short-lives stabilization. Brent crude failed to stay above the $25 handle and dipped to daily lows below $24. The current dynamics is highlighting the fragility of the market sentiment, with downside risks persisting amid the ongoing decline in global energy demand. Should the prices fail to cling to the 424 figure, market focus will shift back to the $20 psychological level.