As Jobless Claims hit 30 Million, S&P has Best Month Since 1987

Market Data as of Week Ending 05/01/2020 unless noted otherwise.


Stock prices were mixed for the week as local and state governments across the U.S. begin to relax social distancing and reopen parts of their economies. Small and medium sized businesses outperformed their larger counterparts for the second consecutive week. The S&P 500 Index gained 13% in the month of April which its was best monthly return since 1987. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia posted strong gains for the week and Emerging Market stocks outperformed developed foreign markets.


U.S. Treasury yields were also mixed for the week as short-term bond yields declined while long-term yields increased. Corporate bonds, including below investment grade, outperformed as investor demand increased for higher yielding credit. Investment grade corporate bonds are yielding more than 2.5% and high yield corporate bonds are yielding more than 8%.


Jobless claims rose 3.8 million last week, bringing the total to more than 30 million Americans (approximately 18% of the U.S. working population) who have filed initial claims for unemployment insurance since the COVID-19 crisis began. In an advanced estimate, the U.S. reported that gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020. Not surprisingly, the largest detractor was a drop in consumption of -7.6%. On a positive note, China has reported that Wuhan, where the pandemic began, has no remaining cases of COVID-19 in its city hospitals.


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