Stocks ended mixed Monday as investors weighed plans to reopen the global economy as lockdown restrictions ease against worries about a rise in coronavirus infections as people get back to work.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 109 points, or 0.45%, to 24,221, the S&P 500 was essentially flat - up 0.01% - and the Nasdaq was up 0.78%, led by stocks such as Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report, Apple (AAPL) - Get Report and Facebook (FB) - Get Report.
Stocks on Friday in the U.S. rose solidly even after the Labor Department reported American employers cut a record 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7%.
The historic job losses are a reason President Donald Trump has been trying to convince Americans it’s safe to return to work even while two White House staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the American public could experience "permanent economic damage" if the U.S. economy doesn't reopen.
“If we do this carefully, working with the governors, I don’t think there’s a considerable risk,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Matter of fact, I think there’s a considerable risk of not reopening. You’re talking about what would be permanent economic damage to the American public.”
Mnuchin also said the unemployment numbers “are probably going to get worse before they get better,” but he expected improvement in the second half of 2020 and added that 2021 would be a “great year.”
Meanwhile, the White House is requiring all staffers to wear masks or facial coverings when entering the West Wing of the building, NBC News reported.
The move comes days after two staffers close to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the coronavirus.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday is expected to address the economic outlook for the U.S.
The central bank has taken aggressive measures during the pandemic, and Powell has said the Fed will use its "full range of tools" to shore up the U.S. economy.
“Here’s how I look at the states starting to open up. The economy is like the Indianapolis 500. We are circling the track under a yellow caution flag," said Gerald Sparrow, chief investment officer of Sparrow Growth Fund.
"The administration and the Federal Reserve have filled our gas tanks and we are waiting for the state governors to waive the green flag.
"Investors find it hard to understand that employment data is a lagging indicator and the stock market will be much higher when employment data turns positive. Also, retail sales come out later this week and the numbers will probably be quite miserable. However, any indication that consumers have taken their foot off the brakes could propel the markets higher,” Sparrow added.
Oil prices were slipping after Saudi Arabia said it would cut production by an additional 1 million barrels per day, dropping output to an 18-year low. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.21% to $24.44 a barrel.
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report CEO Elon Musk said over the weekend that the "final straw" had been broken and that he's suing Alameda County, California, which didn't allow the electric carmaker to resume operations at its Fremont plant on Friday.
Musk also said Tesla would pick up and drive its operations out of California.
"Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be (dependent) on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA," said Musk, in a series of tweets.
He added that health officials were "acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!"