Jobless Claims, Oil Prices, Coronavirus, Boeing, Juul - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Stock futures point to a modest rebound from the previous session's drubbing; oil prices surge after President Trump says he expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to end their damaging price battle; jobless claims could set a record for a second straight week.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, April 2:

1. -- Stock Futures Steady as Oil Prices Soar

Stock futures rose Thursday and pointed to a modest rebound from the previous session's drubbing as oil prices surged after President Donald Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to reach a deal to end their damaging price battle.

Investors, however, will be bracing for potentially a second straight week of record high jobless claims numbers as the U.S. economy shuts down and stay-at-home measures are enforced amid the coronavirus pandemic. Claims estimates range from under 1 million to as high as 6.5 million.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 389 points, S&P 500 futures gained 42 points and Nasdaq futures were up 94 points.

Stocks closed with sharp losses Wednesday - the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq each fell 4.4% - after the White House warned the United States could see 100,000 to 240,000 deaths as the coronavirus spreads nationwide. On Tuesday, the Dow closed out its worst quarter since 1987.

“Fear, fear and more fear descended upon the market,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report.

Brent-crude futures rose 10.79% to $27.41 a barrel on Thursday and West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 10.39% to $22.42 a barrel after Trump said he had "confidence in both (Saudi Arabia and Russia) that they’ll be able to work it out."

The president also said he'd be meeting with executives of the biggest U.S. oil companies. Reports said the meeting would take place Friday.

“We don’t want to lose our great oil companies,” he said.

2. -- Coronavirus - The Latest

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 938,373, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 47,272.

It's expected that global cases of the virus will cross 1 million this week.

The U.S. has 216,722 cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to 5,112.

China accused the U.S. of trying to shift the blame for its own coronavirus outbreak after a report from Bloomberg said the U.S. intelligence community in a classified report concluded Beijing undercounted the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete, Bloomberg reported, citing three intelligence officials. Two of the officials said the report concluded that China’s numbers were fake.

Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada and Pennsylvania on Wednesday issued statewide stay-at-home orders.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recommended the city's 4 million residents wear some kind of face covering to help prevent the spread of the virus.

But he told residents, "Please do not get medical-grade or surgical masks. We must not contribute to the shortage.” 

The Pentagon is looking to provide as many as 100,000 body bags for use by civilian authorities as the death toll in the United States from the virus is expected to rise in the coming weeks. 

President Trump said Wednesday he was considering grounding domestic flights between coronavirus hot spots in the U.S.

3. -- Jobless Claims Are Thursday's Calendar Highlight

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, International Trade for February at 8:30 a.m. and Factory Orders for February at 10 a.m.

Economists surveyed by FactSet expect initial jobless claims to jump 3.75 million for the week ended March 28, after spiking to a record 3.28 million in the previous week.

The earnings calendar on Thursday includes reports from Walgreens Boots Alliance  (WBA) - Get Report, Chewy  (CHWY) - Get Report, Acuity Brands  (AYI) - Get Report and CarMax  (KMX) - Get Report.

4. -- Boeing to Offer Voluntary Buyouts to All Employees

Boeing  (BA) - Get Report will be offering buyout and early retirement packages to employees, Reuters reported, as a way to mitigate the financial fallout as demand from airlines drops during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing will be initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the planemaker to do so with a pay and benefits package, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is expected to detail the voluntary layoff plan in a memo to the company's more than 160,000 employees as early as Thursday.

The buyout plan comes three weeks after the Boeing said it would freeze hiring and overtime pay except in certain critical areas to preserve cash.

5. -- FTC Sues to Undo Altria's Investment in Juul

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to undo Altria's  (MO) - Get Report $12.8 billion investment in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, citing violations of federal antitrust laws.

“Altria and Juul turned from competitors to collaborators by eliminating competition and sharing in Juul’s profits,” said Ian Conner, director of the agency’s Bureau of Competition, in a statement.

The lawsuit stems from a $12.8 billion investment Altria made in Juul in December 2018. The investment gave Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, a stake of 35% in Juul.

“We believe that our investment in Juul does not harm competition and that the FTC misunderstood the facts,” said Altria’s general counsel, Murray Garnick. “We are disappointed with the FTC’s decision, believe we have a strong defense and will vigorously defend our investment.”