Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to plunge again after Trump address failed to ease coronavirus concerns

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to another major slide for the Dow at this morning's open after President Donald Trump's Wednesday night address failed to ease concerns about the possible economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. (CNBC)

* El-Erian sees stock market decline reaching 30% from highs as world goes into recession (CNBC)
ECB holds rates but announces stimulus package to combat coronavirus impact (CNBC)

S&P futures hit their 5% limit-down levels this morning. An S&P 500 drop of over 7% in the regular session would trigger a 15-minute trading pause, which happened Monday. The temporary halt is the first of three levels of so-called downside circuit breakers. (CNBC)

Trump, in a primetime speech, announced a ban on most travelers to the U.S. from Europe for the next 30 days. He also said he would ask Congress for an economic relief package. House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled their ideas. (CNBC & Reuters)

* EU leaders condemn Trump's travel ban amid coronavirus outbreak (CNBC)
* European airline shares tank after Trump orders new coronavirus travel restrictions (CNBC)

Ahead of Trump's announcement, the Dow plunged over 1,450 points, or nearly 5.9%, closing in a bear market Wednesday afternoon. If the indicated losses for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were to hold by the close on Wall Street on Thursday, they would join the Dow in bear market territory. (CNBC)

Investors are looking for signs of coronavirus-impact on the economy in the government's figures weekly initial jobless claims and the February producer price index this morning. Adobe (ADBE), Broadcom (AVGO), Gap (GPS), Oracle (ORCL), Slack (WORK) and Ulta Beauty (ULTA) are out with earnings after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The NBA has suspended its season indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. The NCAA men's and women's March Madness college basketball tournaments will be played without fans. CME Group will close its Chicago trading floor in a precautionary move "at the close of business" Friday. (CNBC)

Carnival's Princess Cruises to pause global ship operations for 60 days over coronavirus (CNBC)

Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for the virus in Australia, where he's working on a movie. Late-night TV shows taped in New York will now be recorded without a live audience. Twitter is making its work-from-home policy mandatory. (CNBC)

The increased precautions in the U.S. come as confirmed coronavirus cases in America top 1,300 with 38 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global cases, with the vast majority still in China where the outbreak originated in December, rose to more than 126,000 with 4,641 deaths. (CNBC)

Italy, the biggest hot-spot outside China, tightened its nationwide lockdown, ordering all nonessential shops and services to close. Italy has over 12,400 cases with 827 deaths. (CNBC)

The head of the World Health Organization urged all countries today to "double down" in the fight against the coronavirus. WHO's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking to diplomats in Geneva a day after characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Dollar General (DG) reported quarterly earnings of $2.10 per share for its latest quarter, 9 cents a share above estimates. Revenue also beat forecasts. Comparable-store sales were up 3.2%, better than the 2.8% rise predicted by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Dollar General also raised its quarterly dividend to 36 cents per share from 32 cents a share.

Party City (PRTY) earned 51 cents per share for its fourth quarter, well below the 88 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue also missed forecasts, with comparable-store sales falling 5.1% versus a Refinitiv consensus estimate of a 4.9% decline. The company also said CEO Jim Harrison is stepping down on April 1, replaced by retail chief Brad Weston.

Washington state lawmakers have passed a measure that removes a significant tax break for Boeing (BA) and other aerospace companies. The move is an attempt to prevent possible European tariffs on U.S. goods. The World Trade Organization has ruled in the past that both Boeing and European rival Airbus have received billions of dollars in unfair government subsidies.

Investor Carl Icahn told The Wall Street Journal he has increased his stake in Occidental Petroleum (OXY) to nearly 10%, compared to about 2.5% at the end of 2019. Icahn has been critical of Occidental management, particularly its decision to buy Anadarko Petroleum for $38 billion last year.

The cost of insuring General Electric (GE) debt has jumped to levels last seen in 2018, according to data from information provider Markit and quoted in The Wall Street Journal. The rise is seen as a reaction to GE's possible business exposure from the coronavirus outbreak.

Best Buy (BBY)Executive Chairman Hubert Joly will not stand for re-election at the electronics retailer's annual meeting in June. Joly, who served as Best Buy CEO until a year ago, will remain as a consultant for one year.

Activist investor Starboard Value is nominating a slate of directors to the board of online marketplace eBay (EBAY), according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

Marathon Petroleum (MPC) is exploring the sale of assets of its pipeline subsidiary MPLX, according to a Reuters report. The assets could be worth as much as $15 billion.

WATERCOOLER

Nearly one in four Americans are skipping medical care, including doctor visits, medications, vaccinations, annual exams, screenings, vision checks and routine blood work, because of the cost. That's a particularly troubling trend as the world grapples with the spread of the coronavirus. (CNBC Make It)