Economic Toll of Coronavirus Lockdown Pressures U.S. Stock ETFs

U.S. markets and stock exchange traded funds were stuck in choppy action Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 slipping toward the end of the session after employment data revealed 20 million Americans were laid off in April due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures.

On Wednesday, the Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) was up 0.8%, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) fell 0.6% and SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) dropped 0.4%.

Technology stocks continued to lead the markets as lifestyle changes supported some areas of the market more than others.

“The leadership has come from stocks that benefit from the stay-at-home economy,” Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Managers, told Reuters. “For the most part, people are hedging their bets, increasing their exposure to companies such as Amazon and Microsoft.”

Dragging on the markets on Wednesday, updated ADP National Employment data revealed U.S. employers let go a record 20.236 million workers over April due to mandatory business closures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak. Investors are now waiting on the Labor Department’s more comprehensive monthly report on Friday.

“It’s one thing to talk about big job losses…but to see it all in one spot, I think that has been some reason for pause,” Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird, told Reuters.

“We’re seeing data that’s just off the charts,” Philip Lawlor, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, told the Wall Street Journal. “Has the market fully discounted [all of this]? My suspicion is that we haven’t yet reached that point.”

Investors are also watching some states that have reopened their local economies by easing lockdown measures in hopes of kick-starting activity. However, some remain skeptical.

“States can declare themselves open all they want. If people aren’t comfortable going out of their houses, then they’re not going to do anything,” Delwiche added. “The evidence of activity resuming is as important as states declaring themselves open.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has increased to over 1.2 million, and many fear there could be another round of cases as lockdown measures are lifted.

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