Updated, 9:35 am: Stocks opened sharply lower today after futures declined overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 290 points, or about 1.04%. The Nasdaq fell around 1.7%. In addition to the Trump coronavirus news, the markets are digesting a worse-than-expected jobs report.
What We Originally Reported: After President Donald Trump tweeted early this morning that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus, stocks fell in the U.S. and Europe.
Dow futures were down 292 points, or about 1%, as of 3 a.m. Eastern time, a few hours after Trump revealed the news. The unsettling developments come during a critical moment for the country. Election day is now 31 days away, the overall economic picture is grim and fears are increasing about a national uptick in cases as the pandemic rages on.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Earlier Thursday, it was revealed that top Trump aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus. According to CNN, some officials were aware of Hicks’ diagnosis before Trump participated in an indoor campaign event in New Jersey on Thursday. The president traveled with Hicks both on Tuesday, when Trump debated Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland, and again on Wednesday, when Trump and Hicks went to a Minnesota rally.
As the situation unfolds, today also marks the release of the monthly jobs report, which is another key indicator for the market.
Yesterday, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the seven days ended Sept. 26 fell by 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 837,000. Economists had forecast 850,000 applications.
The data also showed that continuing claims, which paint a broader picture of unemployment in the country and lags jobless numbers by one week, amounted to 11.8 million, compared with the prior week’s 12.7 million and forecasts of 12.2 million.
Last night, the House of Representatives passed a new $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, but it’s not expected to pass in the Senate.
The legislation would provide a second round of $1,200 checks for individuals and $500 per dependent. It also seeks to restore the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits, which expired at the end of July, and continue those payments through the end of January. — With contributions from Samantha McDonald