Stock futures open little changed after Dow’s worst quarter since 1987

Stocks futures kicked off the overnight session roughly flat on the heels of another down day during regular equity trading, during which the Dow solidified its worst quarterly drop since 1987.

Each of the three major indices suffered stunning declines during the first three months of this year as the coronavirus outbreak escalated globally, triggering widespread stay-at-home orders, effectively shutting down travel-related industries and grinding a myriad other business operations to a halt. During a White House briefing Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump said Americans should prepare for what is going to be “a very, very painful two weeks” as the pandemic paces toward a peak in the U.S., before conditions improve.

As of market close Tuesday, the S&P 500 was down 20% for the year to date, the Dow fell 23.2% and the Nasdaq dropped 14.18%, with the latter’s declines cushioned relative to the other indices as investors bought into big tech names. The Information Technology sector was the leader in the S&P 500 for the first quarter, followed by the Health-Care sector.

The Energy sector, meanwhile, was the S&P 500’s biggest laggard, dropping 51% for the year to date. This coincided with a precipitous decline in crude oil prices, with domestic West Texas Intermediate posting its single largest quarterly and monthly declines on record, settling more than 66% lower for the year to date on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia has vowed to hike its oil output to a record in April, further applying downward pressure to prices on the supply side while the coronavirus simultaneously drags down energy demand.

The case count for the coronavirus was north of 850,000 globally as of Tuesday evening. Of those, 184,000 were in the U.S. The domestic death toll of more than 3,400 topped that of China, the original epicenter of the outbreak, for the first time on Tuesday.

6:01 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open little changed

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): down 0.47%, or -12 points to 2,557.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): down 0.45% or -98 points to 21,653.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): down 0.32% or -25 points to 7,761.25

The empty Trading Floor of the NYSE after the market has closed.

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