Here's the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
Dow futures pointed to a decline at Thursday's open after two straight down sessions for the 30-stock average. The Dow on Monday rallied to its first record closing high since February following preliminary phase three trial data that showed Moderna's coronavirus vaccine was more than 94% effective. AstraZeneca and Oxford on Thursday released encouraging phase two data on their Covid-19 vaccine candidate. However, with virus cases spiking all across the U.S., Wall Street has since become more cautious.
The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported 742,000 new filings for unemployment benefits for the week ending Nov. 14. That's a higher initial jobless claims number than economists had expected. It's also an increase of 31,000 new claims from the previous week's upwardly revised level.
Macy's shares fell 5% in the premarket after the company Thursday reported a third-quarter same-store sales decline of more than 20% as consumers cut back their spending on clothes and accessories at America's department stores during the pandemic. However, Macy's did report a much smaller-than-expected loss of 19 cents per share and higher-than-expected revenue of $3.99 billion. Digital sales for the quarter rose 27%, but those gains were not enough to offset losses at its stores.
Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. exceeded 250,000 as fatalities Wednesday totaled 1,848, the worst single-day since May 7.
The seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases rose to another all-time high of 161,165, with Wednesday's single-day record tally topping 170,000 for the second time in a week. Cumulative cases in the U.S. topped 11.5 million as of Thursday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford was safe and triggered a similar immune response among all adults, according to preliminary findings of a peer-reviewed phase two trial published Thursday in The Lancet, one of the world's top medical journals.
Unlike the high efficacy data from the phase three trials of vaccine candidates from Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech collaboration, AstraZeneca's phase two vaccine trial did not look at effectiveness. That will be accessed in the phase three trial. Shares of U.K.-based AstraZeneca rose modestly in U.S. premarket trading.
New York City schools have gone back to full remote learning, starting Thursday. The announcement Wednesday from Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio had been anticipated for days as Covid cases in the city surged and the seven-day average threshold of 3% testing positivity was reached. Mark Levine, a New York City councilmember who chairs the health committee, said the decision is backwards when considering the city continues to allow indoor dining and gyms to remain open. De Blasio was forced to delay the start of in-person learning at the nation's largest school system twice earlier this fall after union leaders objected to the lack of health measures to protect teachers, students and staff.
Georgia election officials expect to release a report Thursday on a hand tally of about 5 million votes in the presidential election. The count stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and was not in response to any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request. Georgia election officials have repeatedly said they expect the hand count to affirm Joe Biden's narrow lead over President Donald Trump. Once the state certifies its election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5%.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.