Wall Street looks to take a breather as optimism wanes over virus concerns


Stock futures point to a negative open

U.S. stock markets are expected to fall at the opening bell on Friday amid fresh concerns about coronavirus.

Multiple media outlets reported early Friday that Hong Kong authorities are considering imposing the first coronavirus lockdown on thousands of people in a bid to contain a new outbreak of the virus.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has warned that the U.S. faces difficult days ahead regarding the pandemic and predicted deaths will surpass 500,000 next month as he unveiled his plan to battle the health crisis.

At 5:40 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow plunged 232 points, or 0.75% to 30,850. The S&P 500 futures dropped 24.38 points, or 0.63% to 3,821.62 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures fell 64.62 points, or 0.48% to 13,330.88.

Crude futures tumble on virus and inventory increase

Crude futures also plunged further on Friday as coronavirus fears and rising U.S. inventory dented sentiment.

At 5:40 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.23, or 2.32% to $51.90 a barrel. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, dropped $1.16, or 2.07% to $54.94 a barrel.

A Thursday-evening report from the American Petroleum Institute added to crude’s fall. It said U.S. crude-oil inventories climbed by 2.6 million barrels last week, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 1.2 million-barrel draw.

Today, traders are awaiting official inventory report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is expected to show crude stockpiles fell by 2.5 million barrels last week.

ECB keeps rates, bond-buying program unchanged

European Central Bank policymakers, as had been expected, left interest rates and emergency bond-buying program unchanged on Thursday, after increasing support to the coronavirus-stricken Eurozone economy just six weeks ago.

The ECB kept the interest rates on its main refinancing operations and those on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility steady at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50%, respectively.

“The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon, and such convergence has been consistently reflected in underlying inflation dynamics,” the ECB said in its statement.

President Christine Lagarde said the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose “serious risks” to the euro zone economy as lockdowns are tightened across the region.