Dow futures were pointing to a modest gain at Thursday's open even as 5.245 million more Americans filed for first-time jobless claims last week. Record declines in March retail sales and April New York-area manufacturing due of the coronavirus economic halt pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 445 points, or 1.9%, on Wednesday. The S&P 500 fell 2.2% and the Nasdaq lost 1.4%. Weak bank earnings also weighed on the market Wednesday.
The U.S. economy is less than 3 million jobless claims away from wiping out all the jobs created in the 10 years since the Great Recession. In the past four reporting weeks, more than 22 million people initiated filings for unemployment insurance.
Since February 2010, the economy created 24.8 million jobs. The surge in claims has been exacerbated by the expansion of those who can file. The $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill enacted last month expanded the group to include the self-employed and independent contractors.
Per-share profits at Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo sagged in the first quarter as they set aside a combined $25.1 billion in loss loan reserves. Morgan Stanley, the last of the big U.S. banks, reported quarterly earnings Thursday before the bell. Morgan Stanley said it earned $1.01 per share on revenue of $9.49 billion in Q1. Both the top and bottom lines were below estimates. But like its rivals, the financial firm beat estimates on trading revenue due to the market volatility.
Staffers for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are expected to continue talks with the Treasury Department on Thursday about additional coronavirus relief legislation, a senior Democratic aide told CNBC. The talks come as a key component of last month's rescue package — the $349 billion fund for small businesses loans called the Paycheck Protection Program — is quickly being used up. By Wednesday evening, $315 billion worth of loans had been approved, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC.
President Donald Trump said the U.S. has "passed the peak" of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 639,600 people in America and is approaching 2.1 million people worldwide. At the daily White House briefing Wednesday, Trump said he'll discuss guidelines for reopening the country Thursday. The governors of seven states on the East Coast and three states on the West Coast have announced regional working groups to coordinate the reopening of their areas. The death toll in the U.S. is 30,985, with a third in New York state, which has the most cases in the nation at 214,832 and more cases than any other single country in the world. Globally, 137,666 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University data Thursday morning.