Jobless Claims Expected to Soar, U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 1,000 - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Stock futures fall as investors look toward the release of jobless claims that could jump into the millions amid the coronavirus pandemic; the Senate passes a $2 trillion stimulus package; coronavirus deaths in the U.S. pass 1,000.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, March 26:

1. -- Stock Futures Slip as Investors Look to Jobless Claims

Stock futures traded lower Thursday after the Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill but investors looked toward the release of jobless claims that could jump into the millions as the coronavirus pandemic forced companies and businesses to shut down.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 125 points, S&P 500 futures declined 25 points and Nasdaq futures were off 47 points.

The S&P 500 recorded its first back-to-back gains Wednesday since the coronavirus-induced selloff began about five weeks ago.

The massive stimulus package passed on a 96-0 vote in the Senate. The House was scheduled to vote Friday on the legislation. 

President Donald Trump said he immediately would sign the bill that includes direct payments to most Americans and aid for industries hardest hit by the pandemic.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asked how long the aid would keep the economy afloat, said: “We’ve anticipated three months. Hopefully, we won’t need this for three months.”

2. -- Jobless Claims Could Reach 4 Million

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday include weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the second estimate for fourth-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. and International Trade in Goods for February at 8:30 a.m.

Economists surveyed by Econoday expect 1 million jobless claims for the week ended March 21, a week that saw wide shutdowns in recreation, food services and manufacturing because of the coronavirus outbreak. The highest estimate for the week was 2.737 million claims. Jobless claims the week prior numbered 281,000.

Forecasts in a Reuters poll ranged from 250,000 claims up to 4 million.

Economists at RBC Capital Markets initially had expected jobless claims of more than 1 million but said that was now “poised to be many multiples of that."

Earnings reports are expected Thursday from GameStop  (GME) - Get Report, KB Home  (KBH) - Get Report, Lululemon Athletica  (LULU) - Get Report, Progress Software  (PRGS) - Get Report, Canadian Solar  (CSIQ) - Get Report and Signet Jewelers  (SIG) - Get Report.

3. -- Coronavirus - The Latest

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 472,109, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 21,307.

The U.S. has 69,197 cases of the virus and deaths have climbed to more than 1,030. More than half of the U.S. cases are in New York state.

The U.S. death toll is just behind France, which has 1,331 deaths. Italy has the most deaths of any country, 7,503, from the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins.

The World Health Organization earlier this week said the United States has the "potential" to become the epicenter of the crisis.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that Americans should prepare for a second wave of infections in the United States.

“Would this possibly become a seasonal cyclic thing? I’ve always indicated to you that I think it very well might,” Fauci said a White House press briefing.

Fauci emphasized how vital it was for a vaccine to be developed "so we can have it ready for the next cycle.”

4. -- Micron Technology's Revenue Forecast Tops Estimates

Micron Technology MU was up 4.85% to $44.56 in premarket trading Thursday after the chipmaker posted fiscal second-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates, and forecast third-quarter revenue above forecasts. 

The company earned 45 cents a share on an adjusted basis in the second quarter, beating estimates of 37 cents. Revenue of $4.8 billion fell 17.8% from $5.84 billion a year earlier.

Micron projected revenue for the quarter ending in May of $4.6 billion to $5.2 billion, the midpoint of which slightly tops Wall Street’s expectations.

During a conference call, Chief Financial Officer Dave Zinsner said demand for Micron's products remains strong with favorable pricing trends, especially as employees work from home because of the coronavirus outbreak. But he couldn't answer how strong demand would be for devices like computers, servers, smartphones and connected cars once the coronavirus outbreak ebbs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Micron is “a lagging indicator relative to end demand, and macro projections have significantly weakened in the near term,” Zinsner said.

5. -- Apple Reportedly Could Delay Launch of 5G iPhone

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report reportedly is considering pushing back the launch of its new 5G iPhone.

Apple executives have discussed a possible delay of several months in introducing the much-anticipated phone, sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. 

According to Nikkei, Apple has been weighing both supply chain hurdles and sinking global demand for smartphones tied to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The tech giant's 5G iPhone had been expected to launch in September, helping to reinvigorate iPhone sales, which have trended downward over the past few years.