UPDATED: News that the U.S. economy lost more than 700,000 jobs in March sent media stocks into the red in in trading Friday to close out another bumpy week for U.S. equities.
The Department of Labor reported that employers shed 701,000 jobs in March, although the statistics do not reflect the worst of the coronavirus-related losses from later in the month after pandemic-related shutdowns that has led to sudden job losses for tens of millions of Americans.
The unemployment rate, not surprisingly, soared to 4.4%, up from 3.5% in February. The job losses marked the first decline in non-farm employment stats in the U.S. since September 2010.
The news that came an hour before trading began sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indices into negative territory early on. But the sell-off was restrained by the standard of recent weeks. At the close, the Dow was down 361 points, or 1.7%, while the S&P 500 dropped 38 points, or 1.5%. The tech-heavy NASDAQ was down 114 points, or 1.5%.
Friday’s decline followed a 470-point gain for the Dow on Thursday, fueled by hopes of stabilization coming to oil prices. The week began on an upswing, but the rally didn’t hold on Tuesday while Wednesday delivered another nearly 1,000-point decline. For the year to date, the Dow as of Friday is down 26.2%. The NASDAQ is down 17.8%.
Most major media stocks kept the declines to single digits. AMC Networks fell 7.7% to close at $20.58. Disney dropped 3.2% to $93.88. AT&T fell 4.5% to $27.46. Lionsgate lost 3.6% to $5.40. Comcast ($33.95), ViacomCBS ($12.43) and Discovery ($18.36) kept the losses to the 1%-3% range.
Netflix eased 2.3% to close at $361.76. Apple ($241.41) and Facebook ($154.18) logged 1%-2% declines. Amazon bucked the tide and fell less than 1% to close at $1,906.59.