Dow futures pointed to a drop of more than 800 points at Wednesday's open on the first day of April and the second quarter on Wall Street. White House officials are projecting 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19, with fatalities peaking over the next two weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday closed out its worst first-quarter ever with a 410-point decline. The Dow's plunge in March was the worst of any month since October 2008 during the financial crisis. Amid the Q1 carnage, Amazon stock was a standout, gaining 5.4% with online shopping for household essentials surging as states issued stay-at-home orders. Gilead Sciences shares were up 15% in the first quarter as its experimental drug against the coronavirus, remdesivir, showed promise.
Private companies in the U.S. shed 27,000 employees in early March, according to ADP and Moody's Analytics. Actual losses for the entire month were much worse. ADP reported a gain of 179,000 jobs in February. On Thursday, the government's look at weekly jobless claims is expected to show a second week of over 3 million people filing for unemployment insurance for the first time. On Friday, the government releases its monthly employment report, with expectations for 10,000 fewer nonfarm jobs in March and the nation's unemployment rate rising to 3.7%. However, those March jobs numbers reflect the employment picture only from the first half of the month — before the worst of the social distancing started.
President Donald Trump, in a grim news conference Tuesday evening, sought to prepare Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus deaths, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the America faces a "very, very painful two weeks." The president said that according to modeling, a U.S. death toll of 100,000 is a "very low number."
Confirmed cases across the nation rose to nearly 190,000 — nearly double the next worst country — with 4,081 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. New York state's over 76,000 known cases are the most in the U.S. by far. The Empire State's death toll of 1,714 accounts for over 40% of all fatalities in the country.
Global coronavirus cases surged to over 870,000 with 43,287 deaths and about 176,000 recoveries. The U.S. has the most cases of any country and the third-most deaths. Italy's over 105,000 infections were second highest, but the death toll of 12,428 was the worst. Fatalities in Spain were the world's second worst at 9,053. Its 102,000 infections ranked third highest. In China, where the outbreak started in December, has over 82,000 cases, the fourth most in the world. China's death toll of 3,316 was the fourth worst among the over 200 countries and territories reporting cases.
In its first report looking at underlying health conditions that could make COVID-19 worse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease or those who smoke may be at increased risk of developing severe complications if they were to get infected. The CDC analyzed data from confirmed cases in all 50 states and four U.S. territories between Feb. 12 and March 28. About 78% of intensive care unit patients suffering from COVID-19 and 71% of hospitalized patients had one or more reported underlying health conditions.