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Dow closes slightly down Friday as businesses halt amid coronavirus outbreak

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

U.S. stock index futures fell, erasing part of Thursday’s rally, as global coronavirus infections continued to increase.

S&P 500 Index futures expiring in June slid 0.9% as of 9:30 a.m. in London, after gaining 2.8% on Thursday. Contracts dropped 0.9% on the Nasdaq 100 Index and fell 1.1% on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Global coronavirus infections surpassed 1 million, a milestone reached just four months after the first cases surfaced in China.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.5%, weighed down by insurers and telecom shares. The euro-area economy is in a slump of unprecedented scale, with IHS Markit saying Friday its monthly measure of services and manufacturing points to an annualized economic contraction of about 10%.

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“Sentiment in the market is still very fearful,” said Dan Russo, chief market strategist at Chaikin Analytics. “The longer it takes to flatten the curve, the more prolonged the negative economic impact is likely to be, the longer it takes for businesses to get up and running again. Our base case remains that we are likely to retest the lows from last Monday.”

The underlying S&P 500 advanced 2.3% on Thursday, climbing for the first time in three days, with Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp. among the top gainers, after President Donald Trump said Russia and Saudi Arabia would cut production. Oil prices slid back below $25 a barrel after a record surge as doubts crept in about the deal.

Consumer discretionary stocks weighed on the benchmark after jobless claims doubled from last week to 6.6 million. As states shut down commerce to prevent the virus from spreading, the weekly claims data have been among the first detailed figures to show the devastating economic hit.

“It’s pretty sobering in the sense of the impact it is having on so many people’s lives,” said Mike Stritch, chief investment officer for BMO Wealth Management. “Economically speaking it’s a big number. It’s an indicator of how much damage is being done in real time.

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