US stocks whipsawed between positive and negative territory ahead of the President’s press conference where he denounced Chinese actions. President Trump called COVID-19 the Wuhan virus, antagonizing the Chinese leadership. The Chicago PMI numbers came in worse than expected showing that manufacturing in the mid-west remains weak. The US personal savings rate hit a historic high, while spending tumbled. The Dow closed lower on the session while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed in the black. Sectors in the S&P 500 index were mixed, led higher by technology, real-estate was the worst-performing sector.
Total Energy Rigs Decline Buoying Oil
Oil prices rose into the close, climbing 5.6% for the week. Prices rose on Friday following a report from Baker Hughes which showed that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil declined by 15 to 222 this week. The oil-rig count has now fallen for 11 weeks in a row, suggesting further declines in domestic natural gas output. The total active U.S. rig count, meanwhile, also fell by 17 to 301, according to Baker Hughes.
The Institute of Supply Management reported that the May Chicago PMI came in at 32.3 versus expectations it would rise to 40.0. This compares to 35.4 in April. That’s the weakest since 1982. Among the main five indicators, order backlogs and supplier deliveries saw the largest declines.
Personal Spending Falls while Savings Rise
The commerce department reported that the personal savings rate hit a historic 33% in April. The previous record savings rate was 17.3% in May 1975. U.S. consumer spending, the U.S. economy’s main engine, fell by a record 13.6% in April during coronavirus lockdowns, but there are signs that purchasing is slowly creeping up. Personal income, which includes wages, interest and dividends, increased 10.5% in April,. The jump reflected a sharp rise in government payments through federal rescue programs, primarily one-time household stimulus payments of $1,200.
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