By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – U.S. stocks sank Friday after figures showed retail sales in the country plunged by a record 16.4 percent last month, the worst decline in decades.
The Commerce Department’s report underscored worries that business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus threatened the viability of stores across the country and further weighed down a sinking economy.
“It’s like a hurricane came and leveled the entire economy, and now we’re trying to get it back up and running,” commented Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist for the consultancy Maria Fiorini Ramirez.
The reported collapse in retail sales amounted to the most significant decline since the government started tracking the figures in 1992. It also added to a historic 20.5 million job losses last month.
“From bad to worse to worst, the U.S. economy is amid an outright economic free-fall,” warned market analyst Christopher Vecchio at financial news website Dailyfx.com.
Amid the turmoil, the major stock market indexes plunged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 146.75 points or 0.62 percent to 23,478.59, the S&P 500 lost 22.38 points, or 0.78 percent to 2,830.12 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 82.30 points or 0.92 percent to 8,861.43.
After a bruising week, a broad measure of European stocks was set to end the week almost 4 percent lower, Reuters news agency predicted. It was the biggest weekly fall since the mid-March rout in global stocks as the coronavirus crisis spread worldwide.
Besides concerns over dropping retail sales in the United States, investors expressed worries about increased U.S. -China trade hostilities.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signaled a further deterioration in his relationship with China over the novel coronavirus, saying he had no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping and suggested he could even cut ties with Beijing.
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