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Dow Rattled by Political Uncertainty in Wake of Trump Covid-19 Test

Last Updated October 2, 2020 1:56 PM
Sam Bourgi
Last Updated October 2, 2020 1:56 PM
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by as much as 434 points on Friday.
  • President Trump has tested positive for Covid-19, adding another layer of political uncertainty heading into the election.
  • Nonfarm payroll growth slowed in September, a sign that the economic recovery was losing steam.

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market tumbled on Friday after President Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19. The positive tests rattled investor sentiment in the lead up to the presidential election.

Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq Tumble

All of Wall Street’s major indexes declined sharply after the opening bell, mirroring a volatile pre-market for stock futures . The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 434 points before paring losses.

Dow Jones, DJIA
The Dow is under pressure on Friday. After falling more than 400 points, the blue-chip index has trimmed its loss to around 250 points. | Chart: Yahoo Finance 

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 1.1%, with all 11 primary sectors reporting losses. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index plunged by 1.4%.

Shares of information technology companies were under the most pressure Friday. Energy and communication services companies also nursed heavy losses.

Trump, First Lady Test Positive for Covid-19

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania have contracted the novel coronavirus, injecting a fresh layer of political uncertainty into the election cycle. The president made the announcement hours after one of his advisers, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the virus .

Donald Trump tweet
President Trump informs the public that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. | Image: Twitter 

White House physician Sean Conley says he expects the president  to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”

Still, the positive test has forced President Trump to cancel several in-person events in the coming weeks. It also comes less than two weeks before the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Trump’s infection has also refocused attention on the second wave of Covid-19 sweeping the United States. The United States reported more than 47,000 infections on Thursday, according to Worldometers data .

America’s economic recovery has stalled in recent months, a sign that an elevated infection rate was impacting business sentiment. Employers added 661,000 workers to payrolls in October, the Department of Labor reported Friday . The figure was lower than expected and marked the third consecutive month in which nonfarm payrolls growth had slowed.

US nonfarm payrolls
The U.S. economy continues to recover from its pandemic lows. | Chart: TradingEconomics 

National unemployment fell to 7.9% in September from 8.4% in August. Average hourly earnings grew 4.7% annually, official data showed.