Dow futures pointed to about a 200 point decline at Thursday's open as Wall Street worried about record spikes in new U.S. daily coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed slightly lower after soaring nearly 1,100 points in a two-session rally on Covid-19 vaccine optimism that added to last week's almost 7% gain. The Nasdaq jumped 2% on Wednesday, breaking a sharp two-session losing streak that was fueled by the pummeling of stay-at-home tech stocks. Nasdaq futures were up modestly Thursday.
The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported a fewer-than-expected 709,000 initial filings for unemployment benefits for the week ending Nov. 7. That's down 48,000 from the prior week's revised number, a sign of improvement in the job market but still well above pre-pandemic levels. The government on Thursday also said its October consumer price index was unchanged. A slight increase of 0.1% had been expected. At 9:30 a.m. ET, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell makes a virtual appearance at a ECB forum on central banking.
Shares of Moderna, already up over 300% this year, rose 3.8% in Thursday's premarket trading after the U.S. biotech firm said it had enough data from a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate to begin a planned interim analysis. Moderna did not specify when it planned to release data on the vaccine's effectiveness. On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said that data from their joint vaccine trial showed more than 90% efficacy. Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that a high degree of effectiveness for Moderna would make sense since its vaccine is "almost identical" to Pfizer's.
The U.S. reported over 144,100 new infections of coronavirus Wednesday, the worst single day of the pandemic and the ninth straight day of 100,000-plus infections. In fact, the seven-day new case average of more than 127,600 hit another record, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Wednesday also saw 1,984 Covid deaths, the worst total since early May, and a record number of people hospitalized with the disease. Starting Thursday, New Jersey put some coronavirus restrictions back into effect. New York is set to reimpose similar curbs on Friday.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, said ia nationwide lockdown would help control the spread of Covid and revive the U.S. economy. Osterholm, who serves as director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said earlier this week that the country is headed toward "Covid hell."
Biden is moving forward with his transition even as President Donald Trump continues denounce and fight the election result. The president-elect picked his longtime adviser Ron Klain as his chief of staff. Klain served as the White House coordinator to the Ebola response during the 2014 outbreak when Biden was vice president under former President Barack Obama.
Two more people who attended an election night party at the White House have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, NBC News reported Wednesday. That brings the tally of Covid cases from the event to at least five, including Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson.
After his first public appearance since Biden was declared the winner on Saturday, Trump met with his top election advisors Wednesday to discuss a path forward. The meeting came as NBC News reported that there's growing expectation among Trump's advisors that the president will never concede that he lost to Biden, even when ballots are certified in coming weeks around the country.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.