US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open lower as record jobs growth halts


By Uday Sampath Kumar and Medha Singh

April 3 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open lower on Friday as the novel coronavirus brought the longest U.S. employment expansion on record to a shuddering halt, with investors now awaiting data on the health of the U.S. services sector.

Data showed the U.S. economy shed jobs in March, all but confirming a recession, but was still far from reflecting the true extent of the economic damage from a near halt in business activity as the survey only considered data until mid March.

"The jobs report foreshadows the earthquake and aftershocks that are rolling through the U.S. labor market," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM in Austin, Texas.

"What we are watching in real time is the greatest bloodletting in the American labor market since the Great Depression."

In one of the fastest ever turns to a bear market, U.S. stocks have lost $7 trillion in market value since mid February as the virus spreads rapidly, forcing billions of people to stay indoors and pushing entire sectors to the brink of collapse.

Walt Disney Co DIS.N said on Thursday it would furlough some U.S. employees this month, while sources said luxury retailer Neiman Marcus was stepping up preparations to seek bankruptcy protection.

Economists have slashed their forecasts for U.S. GDP with Morgan Stanley now expecting a 38% contraction in the second quarter. Analysts also expect an earnings recession for Corporate America.

At 08:44 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 122 points, or 0.57%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 10.5 points, or 0.42% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 38 points, or 0.5%.

The next set of figures, due at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to show a reading of ISM's services activity index dropping to 44.0 in March from 57.3 in February. A reading below 50 would indicate contraction in the sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

U.S. engine maker Cummins Inc CMI.N said on Friday it would cut salaries of all employees in the United States to reduce costs.

3M Co MMM.N fell 3% premarket, leading losses among Dow components .DJI, after U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to get the company to produce face masks and said it "will have a big price to pay".

Oil stocks looked set to extend gains from the previous session, with Chevron CVX.N, Exxon Mobil XOM.N, Diamondback Energy FANG.O, Apache APA.N and Occidental OXY.N rising between 2.5% and 13% on hopes of a huge global supply cut. O/R

Tesla Inc TSLA.O jumped 13% after the electric-car maker said production and deliveries of its Model Y sport utility vehicle were ahead of schedule, as it delivered the highest number of vehicles in any first quarter to date.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Kate Duguid; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Arun Koyyur)

((UdaySampath.Kumar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.+1 646 223 8780; Twitter: @sampath_uday; Reuters Messaging: UdaySampath.Kumar.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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