Where Stocks Closed Thursday and What Wall Street Is Saying

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Stocks rose marginally Thursday, but most of Wall Street didn’t flinch at that, as no amount of stimulus in any form can offset the uncertain timeline of the deep recession the U.S. is likely facing. 

All three major U.S. indexes rose Thursday, with the S&P 500 up 0.5%. 

Some economic data encapsulating the time the virus has ruined U.S. economic output began to trickle in. The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing number was -12.7 in March, from 36.7 in February. Jobless claims came in much higher than expected. 

Many on Wall Street are bracing for a deep recession. Even with the federal government planning $1.2 trillion of stimulus, including a $1,000 payment made to families twice in the next few months, there is little any stimulus — fiscal or monetary — can do until the virus passes. 

Here’s what macro analysts and managers up and down Wall Street said:

Mark Haefele, UBS’ chief investment officer, global wealth management:

"Timely indicators are starting to reveal the unprecedented speed at which economic activity is declining. This morning, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey showed its biggest monthly decline ever, plunging from 36.7 in February to –12.7 this month, the lowest reading since July 2012. Jobless claims rose to 281,000 (seasonally adjusted) in the week ending 14 March, up from 211,000 the previous week. While this is an unusually large week-to-week jump, we believe it is just the tip of the iceberg.” 

Colin Lundgren, global head of fixed-Income, Columbia Threadneedle Investments:

"Fiscal policy comes next, and developments in Washington point towards a fiscal package of over $1 trillion. While the economic impact will be material in the near term, it will take time to show up in the broad economic dataset. Nonetheless, the markets have moved meaningfully to price in this downshift.”

Tony Dwyer, chief markets strategist, Canaccord Genuity:

"The government is in the process of figuring out what stimulus would work for protecting small and medium sized businesses, and today’s move in the global markets and early weakness in the SPX show President Trump’s current proposal of $1.2 trillion is still likely not enough. This really is a true human crisis that has developed verses a financial crisis, and we continue to believe the only way to know the market has made a panic low is when we finally see something more sustainable than a one-day rally.” 

Lauren Goodwin, economist, multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments 

“The $1,000 is really helpful. It’s big step in the right direction. it will make a difference. There are two things challenging the idea. We don’t know how long this [virus] will last. We don’t know how people will spend it.” 

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