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Oil Prices Fall in Asia After Thursday Surge: Live Updates

Asian stocks fall as Wall Street’s rally fades.

Stocks were modestly lower in midday Asian trading on Friday, setting the stage for a downbeat end to a turbulent week in financial markets.

Australian shares were down more than 1 percent, pacing the declines. Futures markets suggested Europe and Wall Street would open lower as well.

Wall Street stocks jumped on Thursday after President Trump suggested Saudi Arabia and Russia would call a truce in their clash over oil prices and would cut production. While plentiful oil supplies and low fuel prices are generally positive for the global economy, the clash over prices came at a time of declining demand as the response to the coronavirus outbreak slowed economic activity around the world. Plunging oil prices threatened to destabilize countries and regions where the local economy depends on oil production.

Oil prices surged on Thursday after Mr. Trump’s comments sparked a rally, but they gave up some of those gains in Asian trading on Friday. Bond prices rose, as investors sought to put their money in investments generally considered safe.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index was down 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.6 percent. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.3 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.6 percent.

Oil prices surged on Thursday, setting off a rally in shares of energy companies, after President Trump said that he expected that Saudi Arabia and Russia would substantially cut their oil production to halt the collapse of prices.

Crude oil futures, which had already been climbing on Thursday, surged and shares of oil and gas companies rallied. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose about 25 percent, and Occidental Petroleum was the best performing stock in the S&P 500, with a gain of about 19 percent. Apache rose nearly 17 percent, and Halliburton gained more than 13 percent.

The rally bolstered the stock market, with the S&P 500 ending the day up more than 2 percent.

Oil prices had been hammered as the coronavirus pandemic all but eliminated travel and damped demand for energy. A price war that broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia last month intensified the decline. After the countries failed to reach a deal on production cuts, both instead increased output in an effort to gain market share.

The combination of slumping demand and the contest between two of the world’s largest oil producers had pushed crude oil prices down by 55 percent in March alone, wreaking havoc on the energy industry, with oil companies slashing budgets, and refineries cutting production of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The possibility of some relief to the industry was also welcomed by stock investors looking for some good news. Earlier on Thursday, a report on jobless claims showed that 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week in the latest sign of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Google will provide user location data for virus tracking.

Google said it is using the data it collects about where people go to help governments and public health officials evaluate the effectiveness of policies — like sheltering in place and working from home — designed to thin crowds in public places.

In a blog post early Friday, Google said it is publishing so-called “mobility reports” for 131 countries based on aggregated and anonymized location data from Google Maps users to show recent changes in travel patterns. There are also regional breakdowns. In the United States, Google will detail data for all 50 states and counties within those states.

The reports derive from how Google Maps taps into location data to offer users information about how busy restaurants or stores may be on a certain day of the week or time of day. Google said it is using “Location History” data provided by users. The feature is not on by default, and users must opt in to share location data with the company. The company said it will share the data in aggregate so individual movements are not revealed.

“We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat Covid-19,” Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president for Google Maps, and Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google Health, wrote in the blog post.

The monthly jobs report on Friday is expected to end almost a decade of gains.

Another measurement of the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic across the United States will be coming on Friday. It may not be a big number, but it is likely to be a milestone.

The figure, from the Labor Department’s employment report for March, is expected to show a net loss of jobs for the first time since late 2010. The data was mostly collected in the first half of the month, before the wave of business closings and layoffs that have led to nearly 10 million new unemployment claims in the past two weeks.

Economists on Wall Street are looking for the report to show a loss of 100,000 jobs, with a rise in the unemployment rate to 3.8 percent from a half-century low of 3.5 percent in February.

But double-digit figures for joblessness may be coming soon. The Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday that it expected unemployment to top 10 percent for the second quarter of 2020 — as high as the peak in the last recession — and to remain at 9 percent at the end of 2021.

Before the pandemic upended normal commerce, the economy had created jobs for 113 months in a row, more than twice the previous record. In that time, a net total of 22.2 million jobs were created in a steady if not always spectacular expansion.

Reporting was contributed by Daisuke Wakabayashi, Nelson D. Schwartz, Jim Tankersley, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.

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