Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to post its worst quarter in over three decades

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open Tuesday, the final day of the turbulent first quarter. The Dow rose 3% on Monday;  up over 20% from its coronavirus sell-off low hit on March 23 but still off 24.5% from last month's record high. The Dow was tracking for the worst month since the 2008 financial crisis and the worst quarter since 1987. (CNBC)

* Treasury yields rise but 10-year remains around 0.7% (CNBC)
Oil rises after 18-year lows prompt US-Russia talks plan (Reuters)

China's official purchasing managers index for March showed an expansion instead of an expected contraction. However, Chinese officials warned against reading too much into the numbers because February's outbreak halt was so severe. They also cautioned that it does not mean that the country's economic activities have returned to normal levels. (CNBC)

In the U.S., the latest Chicago purchasing managers index is out at 9:45 a.m. ET. The PMI for March, a month when state governments started issuing stay-at-home orders, is expected to plunge to 40 from February's 49 reading, a number under 50 indicates contraction

In a reading on how Americans are feeling about the economy, the Conference Board's February consumer confidence index, out at 10 a.m. ET, is seen falling to 110.0 from January's 130.7 reading. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller report on home prices is released at 9 a.m. ET.

Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32%, Fed estimates (CNBC)
Labor Secretary: Bigger unemployment payments to reach states this week (WSJ)
DoD watchdog appointed inspector general for $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The American public on Tuesday is expected to get its first look at the statistical models guiding the policy decisions that have led governors and mayors across the country to order more than 250 million people to stay at home. It is expected to be unsettling. (NY Times)

The USNS Comfort floating hospital ship was docked in New York City after arriving Monday morning with the goal of taking noncoronavirus patients within 24 hours. The arrival of the Comfort attracted crowds, with many seeing the ship as a symbol of hope. But the onlookers also raised questions around social distancing. (CNBC & NBC News)

'Please come help us': New York begs for medical workers (AP)

The Comfort's mission was to help take the strain off New York hospitals, which have been overwhelmed by coronavirus cases. Temporary hospitals have been set up in New York's Javits Convention Center and in Central Park. The Comfort's sister ship, the USNS Mercy, has been serving noncoronavirus cases in Los Angeles since Sunday. (Reuters)

Global coronavirus cases surged past 800,000 with 38,742 deaths and nearly 166,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. remained the country with the most known cases; over 164,600. The U.S. death toll of 3,170 as of Tuesday morning was 139 below fatalities in China, where the outbreak started in December.

China to release data on coronavirus patients with no symptoms as new infections rise (Reuters)

The most deaths from the virus and the second most infections were in Italy, which saw 11,591 deaths among more than 101,700 cases. Spain has the third most cases at about 88,000 and the second highest death toll at 7,716. China has the fourth most cases at over 82,240 and the third most deaths at 3,309.

Low-cost U.S. carrier Spirit Airlines said it will cancel all flights to and from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey after U.S. officials warned against travel to the area because of COVID-19. Spirit, which appeared to be the first major U.S. carrier to cancel all flights to the tri-state region, said it was responding to this weekend's CDC advisory. (CNBC)

American Airlines plans to apply for coronavirus aid, offers partial pay for employee leave (Reutesr)

Walmart said it will soon start taking temperatures and doing basic health screenings of employees to detect workers who may be sick with COVID-19. The retailer also said it's ordering masks for employees and will offer masks and gloves for them to wear, if they choose. (CNBC)

Amazon has fired a New York warehouse worker who organized a strike to demand what he sees as the greater need for coronavirus protections for employees. Chris Smalls, a management assistant at the fulfillment center on the city's Staten Island, told CNBC on Monday he was fired to keep him quiet. Amazon said Smalls was fired after he received "multiple warnings" for violating social distancing guidelines. (CNBC)

* Whole Foods 'sick out' to follow Amazon and Instacart strikes (USA Today)

Houseparty, a video chat app that's boomed in popularity amid the coronavirus outbreak, is offering a $1 million bounty reward to anyone who can uncover what it's calling a "smear campaign" to spread rumors of a cyber breach. Houseparty said its platform is "secure, has never been compromised, and doesn't collect passwords for other sites." (CNBC)

New York attorney general looks into Zoom' Video's privacy practices (NY Times)

Less than a week after Ford said it would restart production at "key" plants in North America beginning in early-April, the company has postponed those plans as the coronavirus continues to spread. Ford said it's delaying the restart of a car plant in Mexico as well as four truck, SUV and van plants in the U.S. "to help protect its workers." (CNBC)

Airbnb will allow guests to receive full refunds for any trips starting on or before May 31 that were booked prior to March 14, as the company continues to struggle through the coronavirus' impact on the travel industry. The company will also set aside $250 million to pay hosts for the missed bookings. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Amarin (AMRN) received an unfavorable ruling from a Nevada court in a patent case involving its fish oil drug Vascepa, used to treat patients with high triglyceride levels. The court ruled in favor of Hikma Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories (RDY), which want to make generic versions. Amarin said it would pursue all available legal remedies. The stock was falling nearly 70% in the premarket.

Carnival (CCL) is suspending dividend payments and stock repurchases, as voyage suspensions continue. Carnival said it could not estimate the impact of COVID-19 on its business, but expects a net loss for fiscal 2020. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) extended its voluntary suspension of cruises through May 10, after originally suspending them through April 11.

Gap (GPS) will furlough most of its 80,000 retail workers, as many of the apparel retailer's stores remain closed. Gap will also cut corporate jobs and executive pay.

Visa (V) said its transaction volume deteriorated during the second half of this month, as countries impose social distancing and sheltering in place due to the virus outbreak.

Conagra (CAG) missed estimates by 2 cents a share, with fiscal third-quarter profit of 47 cents per share. Revenue also came in slightly short, however Conagra said it has seen significantly elevated demand for its food products over the past few weeks due to the virus outbreak. The company now expects to exceed its full-year sales and profit guidance.

McCormick (MKC) earned $1.08 per share for its latest quarter, 5 cents a share above estimates. Its revenue was below forecasts, however, as results were impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. The company withdrew its prior financial forecast due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yum Brands (YUM) sold $600 million in junk-rated debt, with the restaurant chain planning to use the money for "general corporate purposes." The debt carries a yield of 7.75%, much higher than the 4.75% Yum paid in a debt issue in December.

Domino's Pizza (DPZ) withdrew its financial guidance, as many stores in international markets remain closed, although most U.S. locations remain open.

RH (RH) reported quarterly profit of $3.72 per share, beating consensus by 13 cents a share. The Restoration Hardware parent's revenue was well short of estimates, however, amid lower traffic and more backorders during the holiday season. The furniture retailer also withdrew its financial guidance.

British American Tobacco (BTI) and rival British cigarette maker Imperial Brands both announced deals for new multi-billion dollar credit lines, although they also say they are not seeing any major impact on their businesses from the coronavirus outbreak.

WATERCOOLER

Sony Pictures cleared out its summer calendar due to the coronavirus, postponing the releases of Jason Reitman's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and the Marvel movie "Morbius" to 2021. Hollywood's summer season, the film industry's most lucrative time of year, is increasingly shutting down because of the pandemic. (AP)