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Stocks fall as crude slides despite historic oil production cut


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USA TODAY

U.S. stocks fell Monday, as crude prices gave up gains despite an agreement by OPEC and other oil producing nations to cut production.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 250 points after U.S. financial markets were closed in observance of Good Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 1% after Wall Street closed out its best week in 45 years on Thursday, thanks to unprecedented efforts by the Federal Reserve to support the economy through the coronavirus crisis. Energy shares fell in the broad index Monday as crude prices turned lower, offsetting gains elsewhere. Major oil producers are reducing output as demand for energy falls during the coronavirus pandemic

This week will bring a slew of first-quarter results from corporations. Those reports will provide clarity on how badly the pandemic is battering business, though much of the damage has come since the end of March. China is due to report its first-quarter GDP data on Friday.

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“The key to this reporting season will be corporate guidance, which is expected to be bleak,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. “Indeed, some companies may even elect not to give any. On the other hand, the market’s recovery from its low point has been impressive but is likely to be cut short as both economic factors and technical factors weigh it down.”

Investors and analysts are looking ahead, trying to gauge when shutdowns in many countries might ease now that the number of deaths and new cases is falling or leveling off in some of the hardest-hit regions.

Sunday’s U.S. death toll was 1,557, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That was down from 1,877 on Saturday and more than 2,000 on Friday. Worldwide, there are more than 114,000 deaths and 1.85 million coronavirus cases early Monday.

OPEC, Russia and other oil producers finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels, or a tenth of global supply, seeking to boost crashing prices and end a price war.

The oil producers agreed in a video conference late Sunday to cut 9.7 million barrels a day beginning May 1. Mexico had initially blocked the deal. Iran’s oil minister also says several Middle Eastern nations agreed to an additional cut of 2 million barrels a day.

Analysts said the cuts were not enough to make up for the void in demand due to business and travel shutdowns due to the coronavirus. But the deal at least helped resolve a price war that took U.S. crude to near $20 per barrel, pummeling U.S. oil and gas producers.

“The demand implosion is immediate and deep, while the supply decline will likely happen in stages,” analysts at Bank of America said in a note. “As a result, the impact of the OPEC+ deal on the global oil balances could take a while to work through.”

U.S. benchmark crude initially jumped more than $1 but then lost some ground, gaining 23 cents by late in the day to $22.99 per barrel. It fell $2.33, or 9.3%, to $22.76 per barrel on Thursday, before the Good Friday holiday.

Markets in Europe were closed for the Easter holiday. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 2.3%, while the Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.5%. The Kospi in South Korea shed 1.9%. India’s Sensex slipped 1.6%.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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