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Stocks waver after US reports job losses in March

U.S. stocks flipped between small gains and losses Friday after the government reported a big loss in jobs last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 40 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.2%, as gains in energy shares offset broad losses elsewhere. Heading into Friday, the Dow was down 1% for the week while the S&P 500 had shed 0.6%. 

The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said Friday, the first decline in job creation in a decade. The unemployment rate last month rose to 4.4% from 3.5%. 

The data comes after a separate report on Thursday showed a record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. That was double the previous week’s job losses of 3.3 million. It raised the total number of Americans who are out of work due to the coronavirus-driven downturn to almost 10 million.

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