Stocks plunge despite passage of $2 trillion economic relief package

Lucy Bayly

Stocks closed sharply lower on Friday despite the passage of the $2 trillion economic relief package as investors turned their focus to data that showed the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other nation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a decline of around 930 points, with the S&P 500 down by 3.3 percent and the Nasdaq lower by 3.7 percent.

Optimism that the coronavirus bill would pass had carried stocks into a three-day rally, despite Thursday's staggering unemployment numbers that surpassed 3.2 million.

Labor experts pointed out that the real number of jobless claims was likely far higher than the recorded figure, since many state websites had experienced technical difficulties, resulting in incomplete claims for thousands of Americans attempting to file for benefits.

With around 2 billion people on lockdown across the globe to halt further spread of the coronavirus, Angel Gurría, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said it was "wishful thinking" to think that the global economy would rebound with any speed, and noted that pandemic has already had a greater impact than the Great Recession.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now surpassed even China, with around 100,00 confirmed cases.

Oil sank to around $23 a barrel after the Department of Energy said it would relinquish its plan to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

All three major averages are now down more than 20 percent from recent highs, as investors flee the markets in favor of cash safety such as money market funds.