Markets seen opening sharply lower as Europe announces new coronavirus restrictions

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Stock futures point to a negative open

U.S. stocks look poised to start the new week sharply lower after a record of more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in the country on both Friday and Saturday, while several European countries issued new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

By 5:40 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow were indicated a loss of 256 points, or 0.91% to 27,933. The S&P 500 futures were down 31.13 points, or 0.90% to 3,420.62 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 dropped 95 points, or 0.81% to 11,568.50.

On Sunday, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced that beginning from Monday all bars and restaurants across the country would have to close by 6 p.m. Under the new measures, to remain in place for a month, workplaces and schools will remain open.

In France, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez banned free movement on the streets between 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. He said the curfew, which went into effect on Sunday night, would likely stay in place for six months.

“The reality is that Europe and Spain are immersed in a second wave of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister said in an address to the nation “The situation we are living in is extreme.”

Crude slumps on demand concerns

Crude futures were also trading lower early Monday as new coronavirus restrictions and growing cases of the virus in Europe and the U.S. raised concerns about crude demand, while rising Libyan crude supply also dented sentiment.

Libya’s National Oil Corp revealed that production from the country may increase to 1 million barrels per day within four weeks, a move that could further complicate the OPEC’s attempts to balance a market hurt by weak demand.

As of 5:40 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down $1.04, or 2.61% to $38.81 per barrel. International Brent crude futures were at $41.09, down 98 cents, or 2.33% a barrel.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine triggers immune response in elderly people

Meanwhile, the Financial Times says that an experimental vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) and the University of Oxford to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease has produced a robust antibody and T-cell immune response in elderly people.

Sources told the newspaper that details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, but warned that positive immunogenicity tests are not a guarantee that the vaccine will ultimately prove effective and safe in elderly people.

The British pharmaceutical giant resumed the U.S. trial of the vaccine on Friday after a pause because of safety concerns.

Dunkin’ Brands shares rally on report it’s in talks to go private

Dunkin’ Brands Group (NYSE: DNKN), parent company of coffee-and-donuts chain Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, is reportedly in “preliminary discussions” to be acquired by private equity-backed Inspire Brands.

According to the New York Times which first reported the potential deal on Sunday, Inspire would buy Dunkin’ Brands at $106.50 a share. That would make the deal worth about $8.8 billion. Two people with knowledge of the negotiations who were not identified told the newspaper that the deal could be announced as early as today.

As of this writing, Dunkin’ Brands stock was up $16.23, or 18.28% to $105.02 per share in the pre-market trading session.

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