- Jobless claims rose to 281,000 in the week ended March 14
- The price of Brent crude oil has fallen 59% in 2020
- The U.S. Senate passed a $100 billion dollar paid-leave bill for American workers
Top Three Market Headlines
Jobless Claims on the Rise: Initial jobless claims increased by 70,000 during the week ended Saturday, March 14, as an increasing number of businesses began temporarily closing to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Claims rose to a 281,000, marking their highest level since September 2017. The leisure and hospitality industries, which make up approximately 11% of nonfarm payrolls, have been hit especially hard by mandates requiring businesses to temporarily close. The number of claims is expected to continue increasing in upcoming weeks as COVID-19 containment measures spread.
Oil Continues to Plunge:After declining 23% during the week ended March 13, the price of Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, fell another 22% last week. The intra-week low closing price of $24.88 per barrel on Wednesday was the lowest closing level since May 2003. The price of oil is now down almost 60% since the start of the year, having been pressured most recently by the recent price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which has resulted in rising supplies just as consumption falls in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Passes Paid-Leave Bill: Senate lawmakers took a step last week to address the economic impact of COVID-19 through the passage of a $100 billion aid package to provide support for households, families, and workers. The bill, approved by the Senate on Wednesday and signed by President Trump shortly thereafter, includes emergency paid leave, extended unemployment insurance, and free COVID-19 testing. Following its passage, Senate Lawmakers turned their attention to an additional stimulus package proposed by the Trump administration that could involve financial relief to struggling industries and direct payments to Americans.