5 things to know before the stock market opens April 1, 2020

1. Dow set for sharp drop after worst first quarter ever

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks along Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Michael Nagle Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dow futures pointed to a drop of more than 700 points at Wednesday’s open on the first day of April and the second quarter on Wall Street. White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking here over the next two weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out its worst first-quarter ever with a 410-point decline Tuesday. The Dow’s coronavirus-driven plunge in March was the worst of any month since October 2008 during the financial crisis. Amid the Q1 carnage, Amazon stock was a standout, gaining 5.4% as online shopping for household essentials surged as states around the nation put stay-at-home orders in place. Gilead Sciences shares were up 15% in the first quarter as its experimental drug against the coronavirus, remdesivir, showed promise.

2. Coronavirus impact on employment emerges in data

ADP issues its March report on private sector employment at 8:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday, with forecasts calling for a drop of 125,000 jobs following the addition of 183,000 jobs in February. Thursday’s look at jobless claims is expected to show a second week of over 3 million people filing for first-time unemployment insurance. On Friday, the government releases its monthly employment report, with expectations for 10,000 fewer nonfarm jobs in March and the nation’s unemployment rate rising to 3.7%. However, those March jobs numbers only reflect the employment picture from the first half of the month before the worst of the social distancing started.

3. Trump says US faces ‘very, very painful two weeks’

President Donald Trump, in a grim news conference Tuesday evening, sought to prepare Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus cases, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the America faces a “very, very painful two weeks.” The president said that according to modeling, a U.S. death toll of 100,000 is a “very low number.”

Confirmed cases across the nation rose to nearly 190,000 — nearly double the next worst country worldwide — with 4,081 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. New York’s over 76,000 known cases are the most in the U.S. by far. The Empire State’s death toll of 1,714 accounts for over 40% of all fatalities in America.

4. US tops global cases followed by Italy, Spain, China

A worker moves part of a delivery of 64 hospital beds from Hillrom to The Mount Sinai Hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, March 31, 2020.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Global coronavirus cases surged to over 870,000 with 43,287 deaths and about 176,000 recoveries. The U.S. has the most cases of any country and the third most deaths. Italy’s over 105,000 infections were the second most, but the death toll of 12,428 was the worst. Fatalities in Spain, which has the third-most cases of over 102,000, were the world’s second worst at 9,053. In China, where the outbreak started in December, has over 82,000 cases, the fourth most in the world. China’s death toll of 3,316 was the fourth worst among the over 200 countries and territories reporting cases.

5. CDC looks at risks of underlying health conditions

An elderly patient wearing a mask is seen being wheeled out of an ambulance at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, US on March 30, 2020.

John Nacion | NurPhoto | Getty Images

In its first report looking at underlying health conditions that could make COVID-19 worse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease or those who smoke may be at increased risk of developing severe complications if they were to get infected. The CDC analyzed data from confirmed cases in all 50 states and four U.S. territories between Feb. 12 and March 28. About 78% of intensive care unit patients suffering from COVID-19 and 71% of hospitalized patients had one or more reported underlying health conditions.

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