U.S. stock-index futures pointed toward a potential sixth straight day of losses for the Dow and S&P 500 as investors around the world continued to flee equities on worries over the rapid spread of COVID-19 outside of China.
What are major indexes doing?
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
were off 371 points, or 1.4%, at 26,543, while S&P 500 futures
shed 42.70 points or 1.4%, to trade at 3,067.50. Nasdaq-100 futures
dropped 139 points, or 1.6%, to 8,711.50
On Wednesday, the Dow
closed 123.77 points lower, a loss of 0.5%, at 26,957.59, while the S&P 500 dropped 11.82 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 3,116.39. The Dow’s five-day loss stood at 8.2%, while the rout has seen the S&P 500 fall nearly 8% — the biggest five-day declines for both indexes since February 2018. The Nasdaq Composite
however, hung on to a gain, snapping a four-day losing streak to finish at 8,980.77, up 15.16 points, or 0.2%.
What’s driving the market?
Stock index futures saw renewed pressure Wednesday night, after a news conference by President Donald Trump failed to reassure investors and as more new cases of the disease were reported outside China than inside for the first time.
“The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is on the rise, and so is the number of countries that have infections. Dealers are dreading a pandemic as they are afraid economic activity will be reduced as lockdowns will disrupt the business world,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.
Trump on Wednesday evening said Americans were at very low risk from the outbreak and said the nation was well prepared. He also announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be in charge of the country’s outbreak response.
A new coronavirus case was confirmed in Northern California, the first in the U.S. by someone who hasn’t traveled to infected areas or been in known contact with anyone who has, raising the worrisome prospect that the virus is spreading by other means.
“President Trump finally addressed the arrival of coronavirus on U.S. shores, and the government’s response to controlling its potential spread. . .Neither inspired an already shaky North American market,” Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia Pacific market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note.
Also late Wednesday, Microsoft Corp.
warned it won’t meet its quarterly forecasts due to the effects of the outbreak, likely signaling more widespread guidance misses across the tech industry. Microsoft shares were down 2.4% in premarket trade.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits for the first time rose more than expected in the Feb. 22 week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Jobless claims are still close to long-time lows, however.
An updated estimate of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product matched economist expectations and showed no change from the first estimate of 2.1% annualized growth.
And a report on U.S. durable goods orders was weaker than expected, declining 0.2% in January. December’s initial reading was revised upward, however, and “core capital goods,” a proxy for business investment, rose 1.1% for the month, well above the 0.3% consensus forecast.
Data on U.S. January pending home sales are also set for release at 10 a.m. Eastern, while Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans is scheduled to deliver remarks at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.
Which companies are in focus?
- Shares of Best Buy Co. Inc.
rose in premarket trade after reporting fourth-quarter profit and revenue that topped Wall Street expectations.
- Perrigo Co. PLC
shares were lower ahead of the bell after the provider of over-the-counter health and wellness products reported fourth-quarter adjusted profit that was shy of expectations, sales that were in line, and a downbeat full-year earnings forecast.
- Teladoc Health Inc.
shares roared 16% higher pre-market after a pair of hefty price target increases.
- Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
jumped in pre-market trading Thursday after the retailer reported earnings and revenue that topped analyst expectations and offered guidance that wasn’t as bearish as Wall Street forecasts.
- Booking Holdings Inc.,
the company formerly known as Priceline, saw shares tumble nearly 40% before the opening bell after the company said late Wednesday that coronavirus would hit its Q1 profit. Wall Street analysts on Thursday cut their stock price target for the online travel aggregator.
What are other markets doing?
The U.S. dollar index
slipped 0.4% against a basket of currency trading partners.
After falling for a fourth consecutive session Wednesday, oil futures continued to drop, with West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery
down 3% and Brent crude, the global
down more than 2.8%.
Meanwhile, haven assets found support as investors looked for safety. Gold futures
rose 0.5%, while the a continued rally for U.S. Treasurys pushed down yields, with the 10-year
rate falling 4 basis points to 1.27% as it notched another all-time low.