Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to surge after a coronavirus drug reportedly shows effectiveness

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a strong gain for the Dow at Friday's open on a report that said Gilead Sciences' drug Remdesivir showed effectiveness in treating Covid-19. Shares of Gilead were jumping over 10%. The Dow on Thursday bounced around, closing up 0.1%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq finished higher by a stronger 1.7%. (CNBC)

Investors should be cautious on potential for Remdesivir, analysts say (CNBC)
* Moderna surges after getting $483 million in federal funding to accelerate vaccine development (CNBC)

Dow stock Procter & Gamble was higher in the premarket after the consumer products giant said fiscal third-quarter U.S. sales surged 10% as people stocked up on staples like toilet paper ahead of the coronavirus outbreak. Adjusted quarterly earnings of $1.17 per share beat estimates. But total revenue of $17.2 billion was short of forecasts. (CNBC)

Goldman Sachs downgraded Apple stock to sell, citing the severity of the pandemic recession. Goldman lowered its price target to $233 per share from $250. Apple closed Thursday at $286 per share, up more than 30% from its March low. Goldman's new price target represents a 19% drop from Thursday's close. (CNBC Pro)

China, the world's second largest economy, said its GDP contracted 6.8% in the first quarter after growing 6% in the fourth quarter. Looking at Chinese manufacturing and consumer activity, industrial production dropped 8.4% in the first quarter, including a 1.1% decline in March. Retail sales fell 19% in the first quarter, including a 15.8% drop in March. (CNBC)

IMF chief economist: Global economy may not fully recover from coronavirus crisis by 2021 (CNBC)

Following recent dismal U.S. economic numbers due to the coronavirus crisis, the Conference Board releases its March index of leading economic indicators this morning at 10 a.m. ET. The index is expected to fall by 7.2% after a gain of 0.1 percent in February before the state stay-at-home orders. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump has unveiled broad new federal guidelines that lay out conditions for parts of the U.S. not hit as hard by the coronavirus to start relaxing some of the strict orders aimed at mitigating the spread of the disease. While the decision to lift restrictions ultimately rests with state governors, the federal outline nevertheless ramps up pressure on them to loosen their restrictions. (CNBC)

New York and other East Coast states are extending their shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15 as officials grapple with how to reopen parts of the economy without leading to a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday reported the lowest increase in New York state deaths in six days as the new daily increases in Covid-19 cases nationwide showed signs of slowing. (CNBC)

New York has a third of America's over 671,400 cases and a third of the 33,286 deaths. Globally, coronavirus cases climbed to nearly 2.2 million with 146,071 deaths. On Thursday, the World Health Organization's regional director said that European countries, where total cases neared 1 million, should move with extreme caution when considering easing lockdowns.

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered in December, has upwardly revised its number of confirmed coronavirus deaths after "a citywide investigation," state media reported. The Wuhan government said the cumulative number of fatalities from the disease shot up 50% to 3,869. (CNBC)

Michael Cohen, former personal Trump lawyer, will be released from prison in two weeks and be allowed to serve the remainder of a three-year federal criminal sentence in home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus, CNBC has learned.

* Trump friend Roger Stone denied new trial by judge (CNBC)

A group of Amazon corporate employees is calling on colleagues to stage an "online walkout" next Friday to demand that the company reinstate fired workers, and to protest its treatment of warehouse workers during the coronavirus outbreak. (CNBC)

Boeing (BA) will resume limited commercial jet production in the Seattle area on Monday, following a three-week shutdown. The jet maker had suspended all production in the region in response to virus concerns and travel restrictions. (Reuters)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Uber (UBER) said results for the March quarter will take a roughly $2 billion hit, to write down the value of various minority equity investments that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. The ride-hailing service also said a financial assistance program for drivers and delivery workers would cut up to $21 million off revenue for the first quarter and up to $80 million for the second quarter.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) is asking its unions to consider potential concessions to aid in what's expected to be a slow industry recovery, according to a Reuters report.

Facebook (FB) canceled all large in-person events through June 2021, and said employees would be required to work from home through at least the end of May.

Regions Financial (RF) reported quarterly earnings of 14 cents per share, missing the consensus estimate of 23 cents a share. Revenue also came in below forecasts. Regions increased its credit loss provision to $373 million from $96 million at the end of the prior quarter and said its capital and liquidity levels were strong as it deals with challenging conditions stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

Schlumberger (SLB) beat estimates by a penny a share with quarterly profit of 25 cents per share. Revenue was below Street forecasts. The oilfield services company slashed its quarterly dividend by 75%. Schlumberger took a one-time charge of $8.5 billion during the quarter related to impairments resulting from the coronavirus outbreak and the severe decline in oil prices.

Cedar Fair (FUN) said it expects first-quarter revenue to fall by to $15 million from $25 million a year ago due to the virus outbreak, and that it has suspended up to $100 million in nonessential capital projects. The amusement park operator has also suspended the company's quarterly distribution.

WATERCOOLER

As social distancing continues, many traditional grocery delivery services have become overwhelmed with orders. One alternative could be to buy some of your groceries from wholesale food distributors, which usually sell exclusively to restaurants, cafes or grocery stores. (CNBC Grow)