Reopening the U.S. Economy, Jobless Claims, Morgan Stanley Earnings - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Stock futures rise as President Trump says he'll issue guidelines on reopening the U.S. economy stalled by the coronavirus pandemic; weekly jobless claims are forecast at 6 million; Morgan Stanley and Abbott Laboratories report earnings.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, April 16:

1. -- Stock Futures Rise as U.S. Plans for Reopening Economy

Stock futures rose Thursday and Wall Street looked set to post a modest rebound on indications from governments in Europe and the United States that they were planning for small reopenings of economies stalled by the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Donald Trump said he planned to issue guidelines Thursday on re-opening the world's biggest economy.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37 points, futures for the S&P 500 gained 6 points and Nasdaq futures were up 47 points.

Stocks slumped Wednesday after economic data, including a record decline for monthly retail sales, showed a U.S. economy deeply damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government said retail sales in March declined by a record 8.7% while factory output fell at the fastest rate for March since 1946. 

The Dow finished down 445 points, or 1.86%, to 23,504, the S&P 500 dropped 2.2% and the Nasdaq tumbled 1.44%.

2. -- Jobless Claims, Morgan Stanley and Abbott Earnings Highlight Thursday's Calendar

The economic calendar Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Claims are forecast by economists at 6 million for the week ended April 11, according to Econoday, though that would be down for a second straight week.

Claims have spiked to nearly 17 million over the past three prior weeks as the United States has taken unprecedented measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak by shutting down the economy. The bulk of those seeking unemployment benefits has come from workers in services industries, such as hotels and restaurants.

The calendar also includes Housing Starts for March at 8:30 a.m. and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for April at 8:30 a.m.

Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Report posted weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings Thursday and said credit loss provisions, which have dominated bank earnings this season as lenders braced for a wave of defaults amid a protracted coronavirus shutdown, increased to $388 million.

Abbott Laboratories ABT also is expected to report earnings Thursday.

3. -- Coronavirus - The Latest

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 2,065,906, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 137,124.

The U.S. has 639,664 cases of the coronavirus, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to 30,985, also the most in the world.

President Donald Trump said he planned to unveil guidelines Thursday for states to begin easing social distancing measures, citing a plateauing of coronavirus cases in certain parts of the United States.

“The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases,” Trump said Wednesday at a press conference. “These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country, which we’ll be announcing - we’re going to be talking about that tomorrow.”

Banking and financial services executives, however, told Trump they believed the availability of coronavirus testing had to be expanded before the public would be confident enough to return to work, eat at restaurants or shop at retail stores, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Germany will start reopening its economy next week, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel. The country, which has been in a partial lockdown for about a month, will allow small stores to begin reopening Monday while some schools will restart in May. 

4. -- Google Will Slow Hiring for Rest of 2020

Alphabet's  (GOOGL) - Get Report Google told employees in a memo Wednesday that it would be slowing hiring for the rest of 2020.

CEO Sundar Pichai also told staff the search giant would be making other cost-cutting moves as advertising demand takes a hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pichai said Google would be “recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers and machines, and non business essential marketing and travel,” according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the existence of the memo.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the memo to Bloomberg and added that the company will maintain hiring momentum “in a small number of strategic areas,” while “on-boarding the many people who’ve been hired but haven’t started yet.” 

Alphabet had about 119,000 employees at the end of last year, and had been planning to hire about 20,000 new employees in 2020.

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5. -- Bed Bath & Beyond Posts Surprise Earnings Beat

Bed Bath & Beyond  (BBBY) - Get Report was rising 13.51% to $5.04 in premarket trading Thursday after the retailer surprised with an adjusted profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.

Bed Bath and Beyond reported a loss for the period of 53 cents a share, vs. a year-earlier loss of $1.92.. Adjusted earnings in the period were 38 cents a share.

Analysts were expecting Bed Bath & Beyond to report an adjusted loss of 5 cents a share.

Sales in the quarter fell 6% to $3.1 billion and same-store sales declined 5.6%. Analysts had called for revenue of $3 billion. 

The company didn't provide fiscal-year guidance owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The company's first quarter and full-year 2020 results will be unfavorably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said CEO Mark Tritton. “The duration and extent of the pandemic is highly uncertain, and Bed Bath & Beyond's results could be impacted in ways that are difficult to predict today. Due to the level of market uncertainty, the company will not provide further financial guidance for fiscal 2020 at this time.”

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