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Market Snapshot: Dow futures point lower as COVID-19 cases spur new lockdowns

Stock-index futures trade lower as a continued rise in COVID-19 cases spur new restrictions on activity, underlining worries about the global economic outlook. Read More...

Stock-index futures traded slightly lower Thursday as a continued rise in COVID-19 cases spurred new restrictions on activity, underlining worries about the U.S. and global economic outlook.

What are major benchmarks doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, -0.26% fell 36 points, or 0.1%, to 29,353, while S&P 500 futures ES00, -0.19% were off 2.90 points, or less than 0.1%, at 3,562. Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, -0.18% declined 22 points, or 0.2%, to trade at 11,875.

Stocks fell for a second day Wednesday, extending losses in late trade after New York City moved to close public schools due to rising infection rates. The Dow DJIA, -1.15% declining 344.93 points, or 1.2%, to 29,438.42, while the S&P 500 SPX, -1.15% dropped 41.74 points, or 1.2%, to 3,567.79. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.82% finished at 11,801.60, down 97.74 points, or 0.8%.

What’s driving the market?

The Dow and S&P 500 closed at records on Monday, but have struggled subsequently as investors weigh positive developments toward a COVID-19 vaccine against the threat posed by a continued surge in infections and the lack of any progress toward additional aid spending by Congress.

“The death toll in the United States from COVID-19 has now surpassed 250,000, but what really shook Wall Street on Wednesday was news from closer to home,” said Raffie Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note, referring to the decision to close New York City public schools beginning Wednesday.

New York City announced the closure of all public schools after the city’s positivity rate from virus tests reached a seven-day average of 3% – the threshold set to keep schools open.

“Other states, counties and cities across America also tightened their virus curbs as infections are rising uncontrollably, showing no sign of plateauing and overwhelming health services,” Boyadjian noted.

On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded 172,391 new cases and at least 1,923 deaths, according to New York Times data. That lifted the daily average over the past week to 162,816, up 77% from two weeks ago. The number of U.S. deaths stood at 250,548 as of Wednesday.

See: ‘Depressed, disheartened and tired to the bone’: Coronavirus overwhelms U.S. hospitals

Meanwhile, progress continues toward a vaccine. Pfizer Inc. PFE, +0.77% and BioNTech SE BNTX, +4.03% on Wednesday said their vaccine candidate was 95% effective, according to a final analysis of clinical trial data. Moderna Inc. MRNA, -4.57% on Monday said its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective. Both are expected to apply for U.S. regulatory authorization within days.

On Thursday, British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC AZN, +0.12% AZN, -1.76% said the experimental vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford showed a robust immune response in older adults, based on data from mid-stage trials.

Investors will look to data on weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, for clues to how the labor market is holding up as COVID cases rise. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch forecast first-time claims to come in at 710,000, little changed from 709,000 the previous week.

The November Philadelphia Fed index is also due at 8:30 a.m., while data on October existing home sales and the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index are scheduled for 10 a.m..

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Sonos Inc. SONO, -0.29% jumped more than 20% in premarket trade after the maker of speakers and audio equipment topped sales expectations for the September quarter.
  • Nvidia Corp. NVDA, +0.04% shares were down 1.3%, despite quarterly results that blew past estimates, with sales topping $4 billion for the first time as the chip maker rolled out new gaming cards and data-center demand remained strong.
  • Macy’s Inc. M, +2.15% shares fell more than 3% ahead of the bell as the department-store chain reported results that showed a smaller-than-expected loss and revenues that beat expectations.
  • Nasdaq Inc. NDAQ, -1.28%  announced Thursday a deal to buy privately held anti-financial crime management company Verafin for $2.75 billion in cash. 
How are other assets faring?

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index SXXP, -0.58%  traded 0.6% lower while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.61%  also retreated by about 0.6%. In Asian markets, China’s Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.47% closed 0.5% higher, the CSI 300 000300, +0.74% finished up 0.7%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.70% booked a 0.7% loss. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index NIK, -0.36% closed 0.4% lower.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.855%  fell 2 basis points to 0.86%. Yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.30%,   a gauge of the greenback’s strength against its major rivals, was up 0.3% at 92.59.

Crude-oil futures CL.1, -0.50%  pulled back, down 0.6% after notching their highest settlement since September on vaccine optimism, to trade at $41.75 a barrel. Meanwhile, gold futures GOLD, -3.58%  fell $14.30, or 0.8%, to trade at $1,859.60 an ounce.

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