Stocks jump as investors eye coronavirus developments

Stock futures opened lower Wednesday evening, taking a pause after the regular session’s rally sent both the S&P 500 and Dow up more than 3.4%.

Earlier, the S&P 500 closed at 2,749.98, or 22% above its recent closing low from March 23. The index was led higher by the Real Estate and Energy sectors, with domestic crude oil prices closing higher by 9% on hopes that Saudi Arabia and Russia would agree to an output cut at a virtual OPEC+ meeting Thursday.

Market participants have weighed recent coronavirus outbreak developments with a more positive tilt as of late. Growth in new cases has slowed or even turned negative in global epicenters, with New York state reporting a recent decline in hospitalization numbers even as new deaths – a lagging indicator – increased by the largest single-day amount on Wednesday at 779.

“It’s not a time to get complacent, it’s not a time to do anything different than what we’ve been doing,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily press briefing Wednesday afternoon. “We have to remain diligent, we have to remain disciplined going forward, but there’s no doubt now that we are now bending the curve.”

Policymakers’ readiness to inject further stimulus to support the virus-stricken economy has also helped buoy risk assets. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing to deliver an additional $250 billion worth of small business aid to the funds previously allocated in Congress’s $2.2 trillion pandemic relief package, which would bring the total amount available to $600 billion.

While McConnell has discussed trying to vote on the additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program as soon as Thursday, House Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have also they want to add $100 billion for health systems and $150 billion for state and local governments, with these discrepancies potentially delaying a further funding infusion.

Elsewhere, investors on Thursday will be on the watch for more companies to pre-announce quarterly earnings results to provide more visibility into the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their businesses. In one recent example, Starbucks said in a filing after market close Wednesday that its comparable same-store sales growth in the U.S. was the best in four years until March 11, after which the spread of COVID-19 began to dent results and turn quarterly comp sales negative. The company withdrew its full-year guidance for 2020.

And investors will also watch for the latest economic releases Thursday, with the Labor Department’s weekly initial unemployment claims report taking center stage. Consensus economists anticipate 5.5 million people filed for unemployment insurance for the first time the week ended April 4, building on the record 6.648 million new claims filed the prior week.

6:03 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures edge lower

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:03 p.m. ET on Wednesday

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): down 5 points, or 0.18% to 2,730.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): down 6 points, or 0.03% to 23,240.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): down 24.75 points, or 0.3% to 8,165.00

Wall Street and New York Stock Exchange in Downtown Manhattan, New York City, USA
Wall Street and New York Stock Exchange in Downtown Manhattan, New York City, USA

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