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Dow Finishes Higher Despite Devastating Job Losses

Stocks finish higher as the U.S. economy shed 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate shot up to nearly 15%, large numbers but less than feared.

Stocks finished higher Friday following news that trade representatives from the U.S. and China held a constructive phone call and as enormous jobs losses in April and the unemployment rate came in lower than feared.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 455 points, or 1.91%, to 24,331, the S&P 500 gained 1.69% and the Nasdaq was up 1.58%.

Caterpillar  (CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report, Dow  (DOW) - Get Dow, Inc. Report, and ExxonMobil  (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report led the Dow's advance.

For the week, the Dow was up 2.5%, and the S&P 500 was up 3.5%, and the Nasdaq jumped 6%. All three averages saw their first weekly advance in three.

The U.S. economy shed 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate shot up to nearly 15%, its highest level since the 1980s, as the coronavirus pandemic abruptly led to nationwide lockdowns and the closure of countless businesses.

The numbers, which were better than Wall Street’s dire forecasts of 22 million lost jobs, still eclipsed the previous record of 1.96 million jobs lost in 1945 at the end of World War II.

The unemployment rate jumped to 14.7% in April from 4.4% in March. As recently as February the rate was at a 50-year low of 3.5%.

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“In one month, we nearly wiped out all of the jobs created the previous 10 years, which puts in perspective just how devastating this pandemic has been,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial.

“Here’s the catch. As our country starts to open back up, many of those jobs will come back, with net gains potentially happening as soon as June,” Derrick added.

Reuters reported that top officials from Washington and Beijing discussed their Phase One trade agreement, with both sides saying they expected obligations under the pact to be met.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed during the phone call that the world's two largest economies would strive to implement the trade agreement reached earlier this year, said China’s commerce ministry.

President Trump, in an interview Friday with Fox News, said he was "very torn" about the trade agreement with China, adding he had "not decided" whether to maintain the accord.

Uber Technologies  (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report posted a massive first-quarter loss but said it was steaming ahead despite a steep drop in demand for its core ride-hailing business.

Uber reported a loss of $2.94 billion, its widest loss in three quarters, on revenue that was roughly in line with analysts' expectations for the March quarter. But the company is hoping to capitalize on healthy growth in its Eats business by expanding into new categories, such as grocery and package delivery.