U.S. stock futures were pointing to declines at Thursday's open, with Wall Street set to give back a large chunk of the prior session's strong gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs Wednesday. After two days of testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Capitol Hill, the Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing for President Donald Trump's two picks to the Fed's board of governors. Central bank critic Judy Shelton is likely to get more attention than fellow nominee Christopher Waller. The government said Thursday that consumer prices in January rose 0.1%, just half the monthly inflation increase that had been expected.
Meanwhile, Tesla shares, after surging recently, were under some pressure in the premarket Thursday after the electric auto maker announced a $2 billion common stock offering. CEO Elon Musk will buy as much as $10 million worth of stock in this offering, while Tesla board member Larry Ellison will buy up to $1 million. Tesla said it plans to use the proceeds from the offering "to further strengthen its balance sheet, as well as for general corporate purposes."
China's confirmed 15,152 new cases of coronavirus and 254 additional deaths. That brings the country's total death toll to 1,367 and the number of people infected hit 59,804. China's Hubei province said it started to include the "clinically diagnosed" in its figures, with nearly 90% of the new cases falling under that new classification. Japan has confirmed its first coronavirus death. It was unrelated to the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship. In the U.S., the CDC confirmed a new case in California, taking the total number of cases in America to 14.
After Trump revealed his fiscal 2021 budget blueprint, new Treasury Department data shows the federal budget deficit for the first fourth months of fiscal 2020 soared 25% to $389.2 billion. That's already about 40% of the total deficit for fiscal 2019. Revenue to the government actually rose comparatively during the period, but a 9.6% increase in the rate of spending added to the budget shortfall. Over the past 12 months, the gap has been nearly $1.1 trillion as the national debt has swelled past $23 trillion. The president has insisted that stronger economic growth over time would take care of the debt and deficit over time.
Joe Biden is hoping a blitz of TV appearances will help him bounce back from disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire — states where rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders and ex-Mayor Pete Buttigieg had strong finishes. Biden campaign officials told donors in a call on Wednesday that they plan to have the former vice president appear on more news programs and talk shows, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Biden, the onetime front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is looking to bounce back in the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.
Barclays CEO Jes Staley is being investigated over his links to Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender who committed suicide in jail last year. Barclays said Thursday that Staley developed a "professional relationship" with Epstein earlier in his career, but they had no contact since Staley joined the British bank in 2015. U.K. regulators are looking into Staley's ties to Epstein, said Barclays. The bank also conducted its own review and concluded that Staley "has been sufficiently transparent." As a result, Barclays' board has decided to unanimously suggest the reelection of Staley as the bank's chief executive