Wall Street Rallies, Coronavirus Deaths Soar in New York, Gap Furloughs Workers - 5 Things You Must Know Tuesday

Stock futures are flat as investors try to push a recent Wall Street rally forward; New York City reports 914 coronavirus-related deaths; airlines are urged to apply for relief funds; Gap joins other retailers in furloughing workers.
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Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, March 31:

1. -- Stock Futures Turn Flat 

Stock futures turned flat Tuesday as investors tried to push a recent Wall Street rally forward despite few signs the spread of the coronavirus was slowing.

Strong manufacturing data from China were giving global stocks a boost Monday.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3 points, S&P 500 futures slipped 2 points and Nasdaq futures were up 20 points.

Stocks closed higher Monday, led by healthcare companies such as Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report and Abbott Laboratories  (ABT) - Get Report that announced developments that could aid in stemming the virus outbreak.

The S&P 500 rose Monday more than 3% for its fourth day of gains in five trading sessions. 

Traders weighed gloomy news about a surge in coronavirus infections with moves by global central banks to prop up economies hobbled by the pandemic.

The Trump administration and Congress are discussing a fourth round of stimulus, according to reports, just days after President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief package.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Tuesday includes the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index for January at 9 a.m. ET, Chicago PMI for March at 9:45 a.m. and Consumer Confidence for March at 10 a.m.

The earnings calendar on Tuesday includes reports from Conagra Brands  (CAG) - Get Report and McCormick  (MKC) - Get Report.

2. -- Coronavirus - The Latest

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 787,010, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 37,828.

The U.S. has 164,610 cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to 3,170.

New York City reported 914 virus-related deaths on Monday afternoon, rising from 138 deaths around the same time Sunday.

The city has 38,087 confirmed cases of the infection, making up more than half of the nearly 66,500 cases in New York state.

“We believe that we’re dealing with this pandemic at a level, intensity and density that no one has seen before,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday inside the Javits Center, which has been transformed into a makeshift hospital. “And hopefully we’ll learn lessons here that we can then share with people across this nation.”

Roughly three out of four Americans are or will soon be under instructions to stay indoors, The New York Times reported, as states and cities try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Virginia and Maryland both issued new statewide orders on Monday, and Arizona’s governor directed residents to stay home until the end of April.

“We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home - we are directing them to do so,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all residents to stay home and insisted that people only go out for food, supplies, work or medical care.

He closed the state's beaches and campgrounds.

3. -- Airlines Urged to Apply for Funds From Relief Package

The Treasury Department urged airlines affected by the coronavirus pandemic to submit some applications by Friday to begin receiving funds as soon as possible from the $2 trillion economic relief package signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, reports said.

The airlines also must also identify proposed terms “to provide appropriate compensation for the government,” the Treasury guidance said, The Wall Street Journal reported. The law authorized the federal government to take a stake in airlines as part of the $61 billion in coronavirus aid designated for the industry.

American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Report said it would apply for the aid and that it expects it will receive $12 billion.

“We intend to apply for these funds and are confident that, along with our relatively high available cash position, they will allow us to fly through even the worst of potential future scenarios,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom in a note to employees.

4. -- Gap Joins Macy's and Kohl's in Furloughing Workers

Gap  (GPS) - Get Report joined fellow retailers Macy’s  (M) - Get Report and Kohl’s  (KSS) - Get Report in furloughing most of its workers as stores are closed and sales collapse because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman for Gap said furloughs would affect nearly 80,000 out of 129,000 employees across all brands, including Banana Republic and Old Navy.

The retailer said it would continue to "offer applicable benefits until stores are able to reopen." 

Gap previously said that stores would be closed until April 1, but on Monday extended that indefinitely.

Macy’s said the majority of its roughly 125,000 employees would be furloughed this week, while Kohl’s said furloughs will apply to 85,000 of its 120,000 employees at stores and distribution centers. 

5. -- Ford and GE to Make 50,000 Ventilators Over the Next 100 Days 

Ford  (F) - Get Report and General Electric’s  (GE) - Get Report healthcare unit said together they will make 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days.

Ford added that it would continue making about 30,000 ventilators a month as needed for patients with the coronavirus.

Ford will begin production of the ventilators at a plant in Ypsilanti, Mich.

President Trump last week said he would invoke the Defense Production Act to order Ford, General Motors  (GM) - Get Report and other manufacturers, to make ventilators.