1. Dow set to fall ahead of an expected bleak report on unemployment
A person wearing a face mask walks along Wall Street after further cases of coronavirus were confirmed in New York City, New York, U.S., March 6, 2020.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Dow futures were pointing to about a 200-point drop at Thursday’s open ahead of what is expected to be another extraordinary number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits. Later in the morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell talks at a Brookings Institution webinar about the central bank’s coronavirus intervention measures. The stock market is closed Friday in observance of Good Friday. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 780 points, or 3.4%, after Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic presidential nomination race. It relieved some of Wall Street’s political concerns as daily increases in U.S. and global coronavirus cases have slowed since last Friday. The Dow, as of Wednesday’s close, was still more than 20% off its record high in February. Depressed oil prices were getting a pop early Thursday on expectations that OPEC and its allies would agree to a production cut at a meeting later in the day.
2. It looks like over 5 million more people are newly jobless
A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach, California’ during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images
Another 5.25 million workers are expected to have filed for first-time jobless claims last week, reflecting a larger swath of the country now under state stay-at-home orders. Together with the claims filed in the past two weeks, the total could now surpass 15 million. But that number is still probably millions shy of the number of workers who may have already lost their jobs as the economy abruptly shut down due to the coronavirus crisis. The unemployment claims report for last week is issued at 8:30 a.m. ET. It’s all but certain to be the third in a row showing millions of Americans filing claims for the first time. In the last two reports, a total 10 million workers had filed for state unemployment benefits.
3. Bill Gates sees schools reopening this fall but economy taking longer to recover
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates told CNBC he thinks schools will be able to resume in the fall but the U.S. economy won’t magically return to the way it was before. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has committed up to $100 million to respond to the coronavirus, has been working on global health issues and vaccines for years. Gates, a backer of an at-home coronavirus test, has said he would help pay for factories that can produce vaccines. During the interview, which aired Thursday on “Squawk Box,” the Microsoft co-founder suggested that therapeutic treatments for sick people could begin to roll out in four to six months, but it would take at least 18 months to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent the virus.
4. Global coronavirus cases near 1.5 million
New York state’s over 151,000 cases and 6,269 deaths are the most in the U.S. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Wednesday’s news conference the outbreak could “stabilize” within weeks if the state maintains its strict social distancing policies.
5. Disney+ now has 50 million paid subscribers
The Disney+ (Plus) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.
Rafael Henrique | LightRocket | Getty Images
Disney shares were surging over 5% in Thursday’s premarket trading after the media and theme park giant announced that its new video streaming service Disney+ now has over 50 million paid subscribers. That’s almost double what Disney reported in its first-quarter earnings in February. Disney+, which launched five months ago, was doing well even before of the coronavirus pandemic, which is keeping people stuck at home and spending more time online. Disney+ rolled out in the U.K, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland in the past two weeks. By comparison, it took Netflix seven years from its 2007 streaming launch to reach 50 million subscribers.
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