1. Dow set to start higher after last week’s drop
U.S. stock futures were pointing to an over 200-point gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average at Monday’s open as investors assessed the possibility of reopening the economy after the coronavirus outbreak. On Sunday, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state plans to get back to businesses in phases.
Stocks were shrugging off a 16% plunge in West Texas Intermediate crude, the American oil benchmark. WTI had been riding a four-session winning streak after last Monday’s crash. Citing this year’s oil price war between OPEC and Russia and the plunge in oil demand due to coronavirus lockdowns, Diamond Offshore Drilling filed for bankruptcy on Sunday. Nearly four weeks ago, Whiting Petroleum became the first major oil price-collapse bankruptcy.
Wall Street gears up for the busiest week yet for companies reporting first quarter earnings, with Facebook and Microsoft out after-the-bell Wednesday and Apple and Amazon out after-the-bell Thursday. Last week, the Dow lost nearly 2% despite logging its first three-session rally in about a month.
2. Regeneron, Sanofi say arthritis drug promising on sickest Covid-19 patients
Regeneron and Sanofi’s rheumatoid arthritis drug showed promise for treating the sickest Covid-19 patients in a clinical trial. However, the companies stopped testing Kevzara on patients with less advanced disease because it was not being shown to be beneficial. The Kevzara effort, which started in March, is different from the new antibody cocktail Regeneron is developing to treat Covid-19, which is expected to enter clinical trials in June.
As the world remains anxious for a treatment for Covid-19, confusion emerged last week over the possible effectiveness of Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir. Gilead took issue with a draft document accidentally published by the World Health Organization that showed disappointing results from a remdesivir clinical trial in China. Earlier this month, health publication STAT News reported that Covid-19 patients in Chicago taking remdesivir as part of another clinical trial were recovering rapidly.
3. Plans emerge for more states to reopen their economies
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) speaks during a press Conference at the State Capitol.
Michael Brochstein | Barcroft Media | Getty Images
In New York, the hardest hit state, Cuomo said at Sunday’s briefing that the state’s phased reopening could start on May 15, with construction and manufacturing businesses first. Georgia’s reopening is set to continue Monday when movie theaters can welcome customers and limited in-restaurant dining can resume. Oklahoma plans to allow the reopening of churches and restaurant dining at the end of the week as U.S. coronavirus cases near 1 million with 54,877 deaths and global cases approach 3 million with deaths topping 200,000. In California, a lingering heat wave lured people to beaches over the weekend.
Despite health orders limiting Tesla to “minimum basic operations” until at least the end of the day this coming Sunday, managers for the electric auto maker asked dozens of employees to return to work on Wednesday to resume production at the company’s Fremont, California plant, according to internal correspondence shared with CNBC.
4. Paycheck Protection Program to resume with new funds
The Paycheck Protection Program, which got a fresh injection of $310 billion from Congress last week, is set to resume Monday morning. However, that new funding is still not expected to be enough to cover all the small businesses that apply. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said Sunday the small business loan program should be expanded so it no longer runs on a first-come, first-served basis. The initial PPP, which started with $350 billion as part of last month’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic rescue act, ran out of money quickly.
The full extent of public companies tapping the emergency facility is only now becoming clear. More than 200 public public companies applied for at least $854.7 million from the government program that was billed as backstop funding for small businesses without access to other sources of capital, according to data analytics firm FactSquared.
5. Trump shifts to focus limiting economic damage
The White House is planning to shift President Donald Trump’s public focus to the efforts aimed at easing the economic devastation caused by the pandemic. Days after he publicly mused that scientists should explore the injection of toxic disinfectants as a potential virus cure, Trump on Saturday rejected the utility of his daily task force briefings, where he has time and again clashed with scientific experts.
On Sunday, the president denied speculation that he was going to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who led the coronavirus task force during its initial weeks but has been largely sidelined since Vice President Mike Pence took charge of the task force in late February.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.