1. Dow set for drop at Friday’s open and weekly loss
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past the New York Stock Exchange on March 12, 2020. in New York City.
Pablo Monsalve | VIEWpress | Corbis via Getty Images
Dow futures were pointing to an over 200-point decline at Friday’s open ahead of the government’s March employment report. However, the data sample, taken before states started issuing stay-at-home orders, will only show a fraction of the devastation from the coronavirus economic halt. Weekly jobless claims, which more than doubled to over 6.6. million last week, are expected to be a better gauge of the labor market until the April numbers are out next month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, still firmly in a bear market, gained 470 points Thursday. But it was on pace for its third negative week in the past four. Last week, the Dow logged its best weekly gain since 1938.
2. CDC expected to recommend masks in public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a reversal, is expected recommend that many Americans wear cloth face coverings in public in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The White House invoked the Defense Production Act again to help facilitate the supply of ventilator materials for six companies. The president went after mask maker 3M in a late afternoon tweet.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, at a briefing, said, “We’ve had some issues making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places.” On Friday, the president plans to meet with American oil leaders, a day after he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and expects them to reach a production cut deal to end their price war.
3. US has nearly 25% of all known coronavirus cases
Global coronavirus cases have surpassed more than 1 million with 53,974 deaths and over 206,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University data. America has nearly a quarter of the world’s cases with over 245,500 known infections, the most of any nation by far. The U.S. death toll has exceeded 6,000. Italy and Spain have half the cases, but many more deaths. Italy has the most fatalities with 13,915. Spain has the second most with deaths with 10,953.
New York, with nearly 93,000 cases, and New Jersey, with over 25,500, account for nearly half of all U.S. infections. White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Deborah Birx said at Thursday evening’s briefing that about 35% of all coronavirus tests administered in New York and New Jersey have been positive.
4. Banks not ready for small business loan program
Millions of small businesses are expected to apply for desperately needed rescue loans starting Friday. However, none of the participating banks interviewed by CNBC were sure they’d be ready. JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank, was the first lender to publicly say what others had whispered, emailing customers late Thursday that it “will most likely not be able to start accepting applications on Friday, April 3rd as we had hoped.” The program to disburse $350 billion in forgivable loans is a crucial component of the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law by Trump last week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC this week that he would ask Congress for more funding if that money ran out.
5. HBO offers some TV shows and movies for free
Silicon Valley cast discusses series finale in San Francisco
HBO, a division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, is offering a bunch of TV shows, including the “Silicon Valley” series, and movies for free beginning on Friday. Customers can access them on any platform where HBO Now and HBO Go are supported, which includes iPhones, Android devices, smart TVs, and streaming boxes such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. HBO said the initial plan is to provide the free content for a month. Earlier this week, AT&T said it’s replacing WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey with Hulu co-founder Jason Kilar, effective May 1. WarnerMedia has been searching for a new leader since Stankey was elevated to AT&T’s chief operating officer in September.
— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.