US stocks fall after weak jobs data, Trump Covid-19 diagnosis

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks fell Friday following a weak US jobs report and President Donald Trump’s shock announcement that he tested positive for coronavirus.

Those negatives were offset somewhat by more encouraging commentary from Washington policymakers about a long-anticipated stimulus package, limiting equity market losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.5% at 27,682.81.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 1% to 3,348.44, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 2.2% to 11,075.02.

US stock futures plunged on Trump announcement’s of the positive Covid-19 test early Friday morning but recovered somewhat during the session.

Trump experienced only “mild symptoms” Friday after contracting Covid-19, a top aide said, but the Republican’s already struggling re-election campaign was grounded.

The Labor Department reported that the US added 661,000 jobs in September, below expectations and less than half of the gains seen in August, even as the unemployment rate dipped to 7.9%.

“It’s a bad jobs report and likely there’s a much worse one coming next month,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, who noted layoff announcements this week from Disney, Allstate and other companies that were not counted for September.

Hogan said upbeat comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about ongoing talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had lifted hopes that Washington may still be able to produce a meaningful stimulus package.

Stocks fell in September as the stimulus odds receded, but would benefit if a major fiscal package picked up momentum, Hogan said.