Dow futures struggle for direction ahead of week’s final test–a Friday jobs report where unemployment could recall ‘Great Depression’

U.S. stock-index futures were bouncing around in thin trade Thursday evening, with investors looking toward a labor-market report that could reflect soaring unemployment even as the data hints at a decelerating pace of job losses in the coronavirus-stricken economy. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
were off 16 points, or less than 0.1%, at 26,235, those for the S&P 500 index
were edging down less than 0.1% at 3,109.25, while Nasdaq-100 futures
ticked up by about 0.1% at 9,635.50. Economists predict the official unemployment rate will climb to 19% in May, the MarketWatch survey shows, though some think it could approach as high as 25% unofficially. At that level it could approach the worst levels since the Great Depression. Another 7.25 million U.S. jobs may have disappeared in May, after the loss of more than 20 million in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the partial reopening of businesses in the past few weeks suggests the damage to the economy may be mostly done–for now. Thus far, investors have focused on reopenings and hope that the economy will recover soon if another outbreak doesn’t hit the U.S. Director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testifying Thursday in front of the House Appropriations Committee said that he is “very concerned” that Americans are becoming too lax about the dangers of the contagion. The disease has infected 6.5 million people world-wide, and 1.8 million in the U.S., while nearly 390,000 people have died from the the virus that originated in Wuhan, China in December, according to data from Johns Hopkins University as of Thursday night.

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