Dow futures were pointing to an over 250-point gain at Thursday's open. Wall Street seems to be more focused on the benefits of states starting to reopen their economies, such as rising U.S. oil prices on increased demand, than the continuing coronavirus-driven surge in weekly jobless claims.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed nearly 1% lower Wednesday, giving up earlier session gains and breaking two-day winning streaks. The Nasdaq, powered by strength in tech stocks, closed up 0.7%, logging three days of gains and climbing to 10% away from February's record high. If Thursday's projected advance were to hold, the Nasdaq would near breakeven for the year.
Shares of Moderna surged about 15% in Thursday's premarket after the biotech said it received clearance by the Food and Drug Administration to proceed with phase 2 of its testing of a possible coronavirus vaccine. Moderna is finalizing the protocol for phase 3, which is expected to begin in early summer.
Nearly 3.17 million more Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, bringing the rolling coronavirus seven-week total to more than 33 million. The rate of new jobless claims, while still unprecedented, has been slowing in recent weeks. Estimates had called for 3.05 million claims for last week.
The ADP's private sector payroll data Wednesday found that over 20 million jobs were lost in April, and Friday's government employment report for the month is expected to show a million more than that. The nation's unemployment rate is seen skyrocketing to 16% last month as pandemic shutdowns continued longer than expected and companies make tough choices about trimming their work forces, even before they try to resume more normal activity.
A set of detailed documents created by the nation's top infectious disease investigators meant to give step-by-step advice to local leaders deciding when and how to reopen public places such as mass transit, day-care centers and restaurants has been shelved by the Trump administration. The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled "Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework," was supposed to be published last Friday, according to The Associated Press. CDC scientists were told the guidance "would never see the light of day," a CDC official told the AP. The White House has been aiming to closely control the release of guidance and information during the pandemic.
The nation's largest health insurer is providing $1.5 billion in direct financial relief for its customers in the form of premium rebates for consumers on individual and small group employer plans as well as cost-sharing waivers for seniors on its Medicare Advantage plans. UnitedHealth members will receive a 5% to 20% premium credit on their June billing statements. As of March 31, the company's fully insured enrollment was just over 8.2 million members. Health insurers have seen an overall drop in medical costs due to the coronavirus sidelining nonessential care, which could result in record premium rebates for 2020, under the Affordable Care Act.
Most new Covid-19 hospitalizations in New York state are people who were staying home and not venturing much outside, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The preliminary data was from 100 New York hospitals involving about 1,000 patients, Cuomo said at his daily briefing Wednesday. It shows that 66% of new admissions were from people who had largely been sheltering at home. The next highest source of admissions was from nursing homes at 18%.
More than a quarter of the 1.2 million people infected in the U.S. are in New York, the state with the most cases by far. Over a third of America's 73,431 deaths are in New York. Global cases are approaching 3.8 million with 264,109 deaths.