Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to jump on positive data on possible Gilead coronavirus treatment

BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures were pointing to a strong gain at this morning's open on positive data about Gilead Sciences' remdesivir coronavirus drug trial. Adding a tailwind on Wall Street, depressed U.S. oil prices were bouncing for June delivery. West Texas Intermediate crude, the American benchmark, dropped 24.5% on Monday and 3.4% on Tuesday. (CNBC)

With two days left in April, the Dow was up nearly 10% for the month. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a four-session winning streak, closing off a modest 32 points as tech stocks took the wind of an earlier rally on hopes that states reopening their economies during the coronavirus crisis find success. (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day April meeting in the afternoon following the government's morning release of its initial look at first-quarter gross domestic product, which showed a larger than expected contraction of 4.8%. The National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales for March at 10 a.m. ET. Estimates call for a 13.5% plunge. (CNBC)

* Weekly mortgage applications to buy a home make a strong recovery as rates hit a new record low (CNBC)

Boeing reported a first-quarter loss of $641 million. The company faces the coronavirus crisis and the over yearlong grounding of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max.  The company, whose stock was down nearly 60% year to date as of Tuesday's close, burned through $4.3 billion in cash during the first quarter. However, the stock was up today. (CNBC)

Another struggling U.S. industrial giant, General Electric, reported mixed first-quarter financial results. GE shares were under pressure in Wednesday's premarket, adding to stock losses of about 40% this year. GE posted lower-than-expected adjusted per-share earnings of 5 cents. Revenue of $20.5 billion was better than expected. (CNBC)

Microsoft, Facebook and Tesla are set to report their quarterly results Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, shares of Alphabet were jumping in Wednesday's premarket trading after the Google-parent gave assurances on its post-earnings analyst call that the worst of the coronavirus impact on business may be behind it. (CNBC)

Shares of Starbucks, closely watched due to its extensive business in China, were steady in the premarket. The coffee giant delivered $6 billion in fiscal second-quarter revenue that beat estimates. However, adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share fell short of forecasts. Starbucks, which is preparing to start reopening U.S. cafes next week, expects an even tougher third quarter. The stock was up. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Gilead Sciences said this morning that it's aware of "positive data" from one of its studies looking at antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus. Shares of Gilead were halted in premarket trading. There are no proven treatments for Covid-19. (CNBC)

U.S. coronavirus cases have topped 1 million, accounting for nearly one-third of all reported infections in the world, and deaths of 58,355 have exceeded the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. According to the  U.S. National Archives, 58,220 American soldiers died in the Vietnam conflict, which began in 1955 and ended in 1975. (CNBC)

'President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order meatpacking plants to remain open. The order classifies the facilities as critical infrastructure as a way to combat the strain the food supply chain. More than 20 plants have closed as hundreds of workers have tested positive for Covid-19. (CNBC)

Trump said the U.S. will "very soon" run 5 million coronavirus tests per day. But that would far exceed the nation's best single day of testing, which saw 314,182 conducted on April 22. At an average rate of around 157,000 tests run per day in April, it would take almost 6 years to test everyone in the U.S. just once. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

LabCorp (LH) reported better-than-expected revenue and profit, and expects to deliver solid earnings and free cash flow this year. The company is withdrawing 2020 guidance due to the pandemic, however, and taking other actions including furloughing workers, delaying hiring, and suspending 401(k) contributions.

Hasbro (HAS) came in a penny a share short of estimates, with quarterly earnings of 57 cents per share. Revenue was just below forecasts. The toymaker saw a 40 percent jump in games category sales during the quarter, but expects sales of its toys and games to fall in the current quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak.

WW (WW) – WW lost an adjusted 4 cents per share for the first quarter, smaller than the 23 cents a share loss predicted by analysts. The Weight Watchers parent's revenue came in very slightly above estimates, and saw subscriber rolls jump by 9%.

Mondelez (MDLZ) came in 3 cents a share ahead of estimates, with the snack maker reporting quarterly earnings of 69 cents per share. Revenue beat estimates, as the maker of Oreo cookies saw consumers stockpile food items as the Covid-19 pandemic spread. The company withdrew its 2020 forecast due to uncertainty surrounding the impact of the virus.

Yum Brands (YUM) profit fell 68% from a year earlier, falling one cent a share shy of estimates with profit of 64 cents per share. Global same-store sales for the operator of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut fell 7% during the quarter as many restaurants closed due to the pandemic.

Spotify (SPOT) reported a smaller-than-expected loss, with revenue essentially in line with forecasts. The company added more users in both the paying and ad-supported categories, however it lowered its revenue guidance for the year as ad sales fall due to the pandemic.

Ford (F) lost 23 cents per share for the first quarter, nearly double the 12 cents a share loss that analysts were anticipating for the automaker. Revenue also fell short of forecasts, and Ford warned that its $2 billion loss would more than double during the current quarter. Ford also said it had enough money to weather the pandemic through the end of 2020.

Uber Technologies (UBER) said Chief Technology Officer Thuan Pham, the ride-hailing company's longest-serving executive, is resigning effective May 17. Separately, Uber is reportedly considering laying off as much as 20% of its workforce, or about 5,400 workers.

WATERCOOLER

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will temporarily allow movies that were set to be released in theaters but went to on-demand because of coronavirus-related closures to be eligible for Oscar contention. Once theaters reopen, the exemption will no longer apply. (CNBC)

Theater owners slam Universal over 'Trolls World Tour' digital success, saying on-demand is not the 'new normal' (CNBC)