Stocks post best month since 1987 despite daily drop

U.S. stocks slumped Thursday amid dire economic warnings, more dismal data and corporate results that reflected the coronavirus’s toll, ending their best month in two decades on a slightly sour note.

The S&P 500 Index fell from a seven-week high as the U.S. reported a larger-than-expected jump in unemployment claims, with about four stocks lower for every one in the green.

Strong results from Microsoft, Facebook and Tesla limited losses on the tech-heavy Nasdaq gauges. Crude rose for a second day on signs fuel consumption is starting to recover in the world’s biggest economies.

Still, the S&P 500 posted its biggest monthly gain since 1987, climbing 13% amid speculation that damage from the coronavirus may be short-lived.

Investors continue to weigh a brutal economic picture against hopes for a coronavirus treatment and an eventual end to lockdown measures across the world. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the agency is moving at “lightning speed” to review data on Gilead Sciences’ experimental covid-19 treatment. But earnings reports from tech giants show some parts of the economy have remained resilient.

“It’s encouraging you’re seeing big tech earnings come in strong, but there’s still challenges,” said Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network. “There’s going to be a push-pull in the market for the foreseeable future.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell amid a barrage of bad economic readings and after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the euro-area economy could shrink 12% this year. The ECB intensified its response to the coronavirus crisis and the Federal Reserve said it planned to expand its Main Street Lending Program.

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