Stock futures rise as investors monitor corona virus case counts

Stock futures rose Sunday evening as investors braced for another week of closely monitoring developments around the global coronavirus outbreak and policymakers’ responses to the pandemic.

Over the weekend, new coronavirus cases continued to rise in major centers around the world, albeit at an at least temporarily slower pace than in recent weeks.

The state of New York, which leads the nation with about 122,000 positive cases, on Sunday reported 594 new coronavirus deaths, or a decrease from the 630 reported on Saturday. But Governor Andrew Cuomo in Sunday press briefing cautioned against conflating the state’s first reported decrease in both death and total case count with the start of a trend, and reiterated that the state health system remains strained with patients. Total fatalities in New York have topped 4,100 to date.

Elsewhere, Italy reported the slowest rise of new deaths in two weeks on Sunday. France and Spain – two other European centers for the virus – also reported a deceleration in new deaths. In Britain, where more than 47,000 people have been infected, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital for further testing 10 days after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Official government guidance around controlling the spread of the coronavirus continues to be dynamic in the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday adding a recommendation for Americans to wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes.

And U.S. leaders’ rhetoric around the outbreak is still dire, with many Americans in states across the country preparing to remain under stay-in-place orders for at least the coming weeks.

On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams told Fox News on Sunday that this coming week “is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” adding that it will be “our Pearl Harbor moment.” He also noted in the interview, however, that Americans could “change the trajectory of this epidemic” by following social distancing guidelines.

And for equity markets, visibility as to the duration and extent of the outbreak would be a welcomed respite. Stocks ended last week lower as volatility returned to equity markets following the prior week’s advances, as rapidly deteriorating economic data began to reflect the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The March jobs report – which collected data just through about the 12th of the month – already showed U.S. employers cut 701,000 non-farm payrolls, before widespread social distancing measures had even gone into effect.

With this in mind, Thursday’s initial jobless claims report will again be a closely watched print, with consensus economists expecting to see 5 million new unemployment claims filed for the week ended April 4. The prior week, jobless claims skyrocketed to a record 6.648 million.

6:25 p.m. ET Sunday: Stock futures rise
Here were the main moves during the overnight session for equity futures, as of 6:25 p.m. ET on Sunday:

S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 37 points, or 1.49% to 2,519.75

Dow futures (YM=F): up 288 points, or 1.37% to 21,245.00

Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 125.5 points, or 1.67% to 7,648.25

6:18 p.m. ET Sunday: Boeing extends closure of Puget Sound, Washington operations
Boeing (BA) said in an announcement Sunday that it is extending the production facility closures at its Puget Sound, Washington-area facilities, “in light of the company’s continuing focus on the health and safety of employees, current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities.”

Previously, Boeing had anticipated a 14-day temporary suspension of these facilities in Washington state, starting March 25. At the time, Boeing said it would grant paid leave to employees who could not work from home for 10 days. Boeing did not provide an update on its leave policy in its latest public announcement Sunday.

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