U.S. stocks went south on Thursday (Friday in Manila), May 21, 2020 as traders expressed worries about historic 2.4 million jobless claims for the week that pushes the total to nearly 39 million (out of the US labor force of 163 million) and the continuing drama between Beijing and Washington over trade issues and the blame game for the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his stock market story, Ben Winck of Business Insider said China appeared to be mustering enough resolve as the National People’s Congress (NPC) meets in the Chinese capital to chart the national agenda for one year that includes stringent security laws for Hong Kong, a 6.6% percent increase of the defense budget and countermeasures in response to US sanctions on Huawei and the sales of $18 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan.

In a glint of hope, oil rallied, with the West Texas Intermediate crude rose 3.5% to $34.66 per barrel but equities slumped as the news about the US Senate passing a law delisting Ali Baba, Baidu and other Chinese companies from the stock exchanges not pleasing any trader. Brent crude also rose 3.4%, to $36.98 at intraday highs.

“Jobless claims weren't the only metric dragging on sentiment through Thursday trading. US home loan delinquencies jumped a record 1.6 million on April, according to Black Knight data. The surge is roughly three-times the last one-month record set during the financial crisis. A separate release from credit-reporting firm TransUnion revealed major stresses in other credit markets. Nearly 15 million credit-card accounts, or 3.2% of US accounts, entered ‘financial hardship’ programs through April, the firm found,” Winck wrote.