Dow futures were pointing to about a 300-point gain at Friday's open despite one of the worst monthly unemployment rates ever. Traders seem to be focusing on more states reopening parts of their economies closed by coronavirus mitigation orders and new promises from U.S. and China trade negotiators.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke by phone with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He late Thursday. Both sides "agreed that in spite of the current global health emergency, both countries fully expect to meet their obligations" under the phase one trade deal signed in January, according to the USTR office.
On Thursday, the continued rally in tech stocks propelled the Nasdaq higher for the fourth straight session. The index rose 1.4%, clawing back its steep losses for the year and turning slightly positive for 2020. The Nasdaq had plunged 32% from its February record high to its March coronavirus low. Since its March low, the Nasdaq has gained 35%.
The Labor Department on Friday morning released its April employment report, announcing a record loss of 20.5 million nonfarm payrolls with the nation's unemployment rate soaring to 14.7%. While both numbers easily smashed post-World War II era records, they weren't quite as bad as economists had expected.
The jobs collapse was telegraphed week after week in the unprecedented first-time filings for unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus economic halt. The monthly government data reveals the breadth of the job losses and details the demographics of those who are now out of work, even if just temporarily.
Starting Friday, California is allowing retailers, like those that sell clothing, books and sporting goods, to begin offering curbside pickup as the state moves deeper into stage two of its coronavirus reopening plan. California's total of 62,360 Covid-19 cases is the fifth highest of any state in the U.S., which overall has tallied over 1.2 million infections. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that community spread in California began in a nail salon. Unlike some other states, California won't let manicurists open until stage three.
Tesla told employees in an e-mails sent overnight that the electric vehicle maker would attempt to restart "limited operations" at its U.S. car plant in Fremont, California, on Friday afternoon, bringing back around 30% of the employees normally working on a shift. While many remain on furlough, those employees called back must complete video training on new safety protocols meant to keep them safe from Covid-19.
In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state will allow manufacturing plants, including those that make cars and trucks, to begin reopening Monday. General Motors and Fiat Chrysler plan to begin reopening their Michigan assembly plants a week from Monday. Ford is also targeting May 18 as the planned restart date for its North American operations.
Shanghai Disneyland reopens Monday, offering the theme park industry a glimpse of what operations will look like in a coronavirus world. The Disney park in China, which has been closed since Jan. 25, will be the first major theme park to reopen. The company will be implementing occupancy caps and social distancing measures as well as new sanitation policies. Disney said it sold out all tickets for Monday.
In Florida, Disney will begin a phased reopening of its Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, on May 20 in accordance with guidance from government and health officials. The rest of the Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed, including theme parks and resort hotels.
President Donald Trump said coronavirus testing is "somewhat overrated." However, after an aide described as a personal valet for Trump tested positive for Covid-19, the president said Thursday that he will be tested every single day. Vice President Mike Pence said that he, too, will be tested daily, along with "everyone that comes into contact with the president." Trump and Pence have been retested after coming into contact with the valet, who among things serves the president's meals. Both the president and vice president tested negative, the White House said.