Stocks flounder on recovery concerns after coronavirus jobless claims near 39M

U.S. equity markets slipped Thursday as investors weighed the pace of the economic recovery after job losses tied to COVID-19 remain elevated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 100 points or 0.41 percent, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.78 percent and the Nasdaq slid 0.97 percent.

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Initial jobless claims for the week ended May 16 totaled 2.44 million, according to the Labor Department. The new filings bring the total number of job losses to almost 39 million over the nine weeks since stay-at-home orders were issued by governors across the country.

President Trump, speaking at a Michigan Ford plant on Thursday, said the Federal Reserve has "a lot of ammunition left...if needed" but added that would be unlikely. Earlier in the afternoon Chairman Powell, in prepared remarks, reiterated more concerns about the impact of the coronavirus.

“We are now experiencing a whole new level of uncertainty, as questions only the virus can answer complicate the outlook," Powell said.

At least three states are easing lockdown restrictions on Thursday, with Mississippi allowing casinos to reopen and Ohio letting restaurants offer inside dining. Trump added that the entire country is very close to being reopened.

Looking at stocks, Chinese internet search engine Baidu is considering delisting from the Nasdaq to bolster its valuation, Reuters reports, citing sources. The report comes after the U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that said foreign companies that refused financial audits on three occasions would be removed from American stock exchanges. The bill must still be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Trump before it would become a law.

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Drugmaker AstraZeneca will receive up to $1.2 billion to help the University of Oxford make its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

Macy’s reported preliminary first-quarter results that showed a loss of up to $1.1 billion as sales slumped as much as 45 percent amid store closings due to COVID-19.

L Brands announced plans to permanently close 250 Victoria’s Secret locations and 50 Bath & Body Works stores in the U.S. and Canada after posting a quarterly loss of $296.9 million.

Canada Goose cut 125 jobs, or 2.5 percent of its global workforce, in a restructuring caused by the pandemic.

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Commodities traded mixed, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil up 1.28 percent at $33.92 a barrel and gold rose over 1 percent to $1,720.50 an ounce.

U.S. Treasurys ticked higher, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 0.677 percent.

European markets were lower across the board, with Germany’s DAX down 1.32 percent, France’s CAC off 1.02 percent and Britain’s FTSE weaker by 0.54 percent.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.55 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.49 percent and Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.21 percent.

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