Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to sink again, Pompeo slams China over coronavirus and February jobs soar


U.S. stock futures were pointing to a sharp decline for the Dow at Friday's open, in a wild week that saw blue chips come out of correction and then back in. The Dow lost nearly 1,000 points Thursday, but was tracking before Friday's session for weekly gains. (CNBC)

Investors have been selling stocks and buying bonds on concerns about the global spread of the coronavirus. The 10-year Treasury yield, which moves inversely to the price, continued its incredible march lower, plummeting to a new all-time low early Friday below 0.7% before recovering a bit. (CNBC)

* Gold tracking for its best week in over a decade (Reuters)
* Oil sink over 3% after Russia rejects steeper OPEC+ cut (Reuters)

The U.S. economy added 273,000 nonfarm jobs in February, the government said this morning. Economists were looking for payroll gains of 175,000. Officials said there was no coronavirus impact seen in these numbers. The unemployment rate last month dipped back down to 3.5%, as expected. (CNBC)

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, New York Fed President John Williams, and Kansas City Fed President Esther George all have public appearances during the day. There are no major earnings reports this morning or after today's closing bell. (CNBC)


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CNBC on Friday accused China of not being forthcoming initially on the coronavirus outbreak. "The information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn't perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today," Pompeo said.

Global coronavirus cases pushed over 100,000 with at least 3,381 deaths. The vast majority of cases are still in China, where the virus originated in December. However, in the three biggest hot-spots outside China, cases spiked higher in South Korea, Italy and Iran. (CNBC)

The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. rose to 12, with more than 225 cases reported around the country. California and Washington state have the largest number of the cases. Washington state has seen 11 of the fatalities. The other was in California.

* Private labs start testing for coronavirus, prompting concerns about costs (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) is telling employees in the San Francisco Bay Area — including its Menlo Park headquarters — to work from home. The social network is scrapping all Bay Area events and telling workers to cancel all travel in and out of the region. (CNBC)

Two Microsoft employees in Washington state have contracted the coronavirus. Earlier this week, the company instructed employees in Puget Sound and California's Bay Area to work from home and limit travel. (CNBC)

Costco (COST), which has been experiencing a surge in sales of consumer staples in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue in its fiscal second quarter, which ended in mid-February. Same store sales for all of February jumped 12.1%. (CNBC)

Starbucks (SBUX) cut its China sales forecast due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the coffee chain also announced that it would suspend new store openings in China. Starbucks expects same-store sales to drop by 50% in China for the second quarter. (Reuters)

JPMorgan (JPM) Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, 63, is recuperating after having emergency heart surgery. Co-presidents Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith will be jointly leading the company as Dimon recovers. CNBC's Wilfred Frost reports that Dimon woke up with chest pains Thursday morning and went to the hospital.

Gap (GPS) appointed Sonia Syngal, head of its Old Navy unit, as its new chief executive officer of the whole company. She replaces interim Gap CEO Robert Fisher, who took over after the exit of then-chief Art Peck. Gap also owns brands including Banana Republic and Athleta. (CNBC)


American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) reported adjusted quarterly earnings of 13 cents per share, falling short of the 23 cent estimate, with the Smith & Wesson parent also lowering its sales and earnings guidance for the current fiscal year.

H&R Block (HRB) reported an adjusted quarterly loss of 59 cents per share, 4 cents wider than anticipated, although revenue did beat forecasts. The bottom line was impacted by higher-than-anticipated expenses.

Okta (OKTA) reported an adjusted quarterly loss of 1 cent per share, smaller than the 5 cent loss projected by Wall Street analysts. The identity management software provider also reported better-than-expected revenue for the quarter, as subscription sales increased.

Big Lots (BIG) is the target of activist investors Macellum Advisors and Ancora Advisors, who have taken a more than 10% stake in the discount retailer. The Wall Street Journal reports the funds have privately nominated nine directors, including ex-Big Lots CEO Steven Fishman.


There could be as many as four launches from the Space Coast this month and it's all set to kick off with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Friday night. The rocket will send the company's Dragon 1 spacecraft to the International Space Station for its 20th resupply mission. (USA Today)