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Coronavirus, personal income and spending: What to know in markets Friday

Heidi Chung

Market volatility will likely persist Friday as the COVID-19 pandemic ripples through economies around the world. Coronavirus cases are still on the rise. According to Johns Hopkins, there were 521,086 confirmed cases globally and 23,567 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. In the U.S. alone, there were nearly 80,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths.

Thursday morning, the initial jobless claims report provided new evidence of the coronavirus’ blow to the U.S. labor market. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits soared to a record-breaking 3.283 million for the week ended March 21.

However, most recent economic data has been backwards looking. February’s personal income and personal spending reports will not capture the impact from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect personal income to have jumped 0.4% and personal spending to have increased 0.2% in February.

“We expect a wild couple of months of spending,” Wells Fargo wrote in a note to clients March 20. “Personal spending likely rose a trend-like 0.2% in February. But, there is perhaps big upside and downside for the March estimates. Anecdotal evidence suggests panic buying of food and personal items, but the closure of thousands of bars and restaurants across the country as well as travel bans suggest the service sector is getting whacked. Expect volatile consumption in the months ahead as consumers withdraw themselves from daily life.”

In addition, real personal income in the coming months will be very closely monitored. “It is one of four primary monthly indicators used by the National Bureau of Economic Research to date recessions, and is a key indicator to watch to assess the extent of income lost from the mass layoffs,” the firm said.

Meanwhile, there are no major corporate earnings announcements scheduled for Friday.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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