5 things to know before the stock market opens March 17, 2020

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1. Dow futures, in a wild session, point to a higher open

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 16, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures, in a volatile overnight and Tuesday morning session, reached their 5% “limit up” levels — but at one stage, plunged briefly negative before recovering. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was looking to open up more than 300 points after Wall Street saw its worst day since the 1987 “Black Monday” market crash. CNBC’s Jim Cramer called the swings in futures a “total joke.”

Despite the Federal Reserve’s emergency coronavirus measures, the Dow plunged nearly 3,000 or 13% on Monday. Ahead of Tuesday’s trading, the Dow was off more than 30% from last month’s record highs, far exceeding the bear market threshold of down at least 20% from recent highs. In a consumer snapshot from the early days of the outbreak, the government releases February retail sales at 8:30 a.m. ET.

2. White House considers which industries to bail out

U.S. President Donald Trump is joined by members of the Coronavirus Task Force, while speaking about the Coronavirus, in the press briefing room at the White House on March 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

3. WHO concerned about possible airborne transmissions

The World Health Organization is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff after a new study showed the coronavirus can survive in the air in some settings. The respiratory disease spreads through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing as well as germs left on surfaces. However, officials said there’s evidence the virus can go airborne, staying suspended in the air depending on factors such as heat and humidity. Global cases surpassed 183,000 with 7,167 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 80,000 infected patients are listed as recovered. Regeneron has moved forward its time frame for having doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine and treatment ready for human testing. It now expects it by early summer instead of by late summer.

4. US cases spike as more coronavirus testing is done

An election workers sorts vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on March 10, 2020.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

5. Amazon wants to hire 100,000 more workers

An Amazon warehouse

Getty Images

Amazon, hit by a wave of delivery delays and product shortages, said it’s hiring an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the U.S. to meet the surge in online shopping demand as Americans stay home in accordance social distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Amazon encouraged employees in other industries whose jobs were “lost or furloughed” as a result of the coronavirus to apply, including members of the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. Amazon is also raising pay for warehouse and delivery workers by $2 per hour in the U.S. through the end of April.

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