5 things to know before the stock market opens April 23, 2020

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1. Dow set for lower open ahead of another expected ugly jobless claims report

Dow futures were pointing to a modestly lower open on Thursday ahead of what’s expected to be another 4.3 million coronavirus-driven filings for first-time jobless claims. The House on Thursday is expected to vote on the Senate-passed $484 billion coronavirus relief package, which provides funds for small businesses, hospitals and testing. U.S. oil prices, which collapsed Monday on concerns about demand and storage scarcity, were rebounding for the third straight session. But the June contract was still around $16 per barrel in early trading, with prices off more than 70% from last year’s 52-week high. Nevertheless, stabilizing oil prices Wednesday helped push the Dow Jones Industrial Average up over 450 points, or nearly 2%, putting a dent in the over 1,200 point declines on Monday and Tuesday. Heading into Thursday, the Dow was down 3% for the week and off 20% from its February record high, but it was nearly 29% higher than its March low.

2. It looks like all the job gains since the Great Recession will be officially wiped out

The estimates for more than 4 million new jobless claims last week would bring the total number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits to over 26 million since states started issuing stay-at-home orders and closures for nonessential businesses in mid-March. The number of jobs lost already rose to 22.025 million over the prior four weeks, erasing nearly all of the 22.442 million jobs recovered since the Great Recession. By comparison, about 8.7 million jobs were lost in the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. The government releases its most recent jobless claims data at 8:30 a.m. ET, one hour before the stock market opens.

3. Target says online sales doubled so far this quarter

People stand in line at Target in Kips Bay during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

Target CEO Brian Cornell said Thursday that the retailer has seen a sharp increase in online sales, as shoppers try to limit time inside stores or avoid the trips altogether during the coronavirus pandemic. Since its fiscal first quarter began in early February, Target’s same-store sales have risen more than 7%. The gain, which compares with an increase of 1.5% in the fiscal fourth quarter, is the result of a doubling of its online sales, partially offset by declines inside its nearly 1,900 brick-and-mortar stores.

Demand from consumers stocking up on essentials have also boosted business at Walmart and Amazon. Target also announced Thursday it will extend until May 30 its $2 per hour temporary pay increase for store employees as well as additional child care/backup care benefits and paid leave policy for older or at-risk members of its workforce.

4. Tyson suspends operations at two pork plants due to coronavirus concerns

Tyson Foods has suspended operations at an Iowa plant that’s critical to the nation’s pork supply. The Waterloo facility is being blamed for fueling a coronavirus outbreak in the region. Tyson also announced Wednesday the closure of a a pork plant in Logansport, Indiana. Several other facilities have temporarily closed due to virus outbreaks, including a Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a JBS USA plant in Worthington, Minnesota, and a Redwood Farms Meat Processors in Estherville, Iowa. On Tuesday, Tyson resumed operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, which had been shut down for two weeks after an outbreak infected hundreds of workers and killed two of them.

5. Trump criticizes Georgia’s GOP governor over state reopening plans

After prodding states run by Democratic governors last week to reopen their economies, President Donald Trump took issue with Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s plans this week to reopen tattoo parlors, bars, hair salons and other nonessential businesses. Trump said Wednesday that Kemp’s decision violates the White House’s Phase 1 reopening guidelines that recommend states wait to ease social distancing restrictions until there’s widespread testing and a low level of community transmission. While seeing the rate of new daily infections trending lower, U.S. coronavirus cases rose to over 842,600 with 46,785 fatalities. The worldwide death toll increased to 184,267 on more than 2.6 million cases.

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