Stock-index futures retreat after jump in number of coronavirus cases

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Stock-index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, with U.S. equities poised to pull back from record territory after China reported a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, -0.69% were off 206 points, or 0.7%, at 29,317, while S&P 500 futures ESH20, -0.67%  dropped 23 points, or 0.7%, to 3,357.50. Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, -0.82%  declined 74 points, or 0.8%, to 9,531.75.

All three major benchmarks posted record finishes on Wednesday. The Dow DJIA, +0.94%  on rose 275.08 points or 0.9%, to end at 29,551.42, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.65%  gained 21.70 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 3,379.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.90%  closed at 9,725.96, a gain of 87.02 points, or 0.9%.

What’s driving the market?

China on Thursday reported 254 new deaths from the virus over the past 24 hours, while the number of new cases jumped 15,152, after the government applied a new methodology was applied in hard-hit Hubei province. The new figures brought total deaths from the outbreak at 1,362, while the total number of confirmed cases rose to 59,804.

“Up to now financial markets have been steadfastly ignoring the coronavirus issue with traders instead focusing on the ample central liquidity that has pushed U.S. markets to record highs,” said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, in a note.

“But hopium can only last so long and the stark reality of the impact of the virus is starting to finally raise a modicum of concern amongst investors,” he said.

Haven assets, meanwhile, were on the rise. Gold futures gained ground and Treasury yields, which move in the opposite direction of price, dropped.

The economic calendar features weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch, on average, expect the number of first-time claims to rise to 211,000 in the week ended Feb. 8 up from 202,000 the previous week.

Separately, the January consumer-price index is also due at 8:30 a.m., with economists looking for a 0.2% rise in the headline number and the core reading, which strips out volatile food and energy prices.

On Capitol Hill, a pair of President Donald Trump’s nominees — Judith Shelton and Christopher Waller — to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors will face scrutiny from the Senate Banking Committee.

See: A Trump Fed choice, Judy Shelton, faces Senate scrutiny over policy views

Which companies are in focus
  • Shares of computer-networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO, +1.63%  were down 4.7% in premarket trade after it reported second-quarter profit and revenue late Wednesday that came in slightly above Wall Street forecasts.
  • Shares of beverage-maker PepsiCo Inc. PEP, +0.00%  may be in focus after the company reported a sharp fall in fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped expectations, while raising its dividend by 7%.
  • MGM Resorts Interational MGM, +2.90% shares were 4.6% lower after the hotel and casino operator announced late Wednesday that Chief Executive Jim Murren will step down when his contract expires. The company also reported fourth-quarter results that disappointed on earnings.
  • Shares of Bloom Energy Corp. BE, +3.67%  were 23% lower in off-hours action after the company announced late Wednesday that it would restate more than three years of financial statements due to miscalculations.
  • Earnings reports were expected ahead of the opening bell from several heavyweights, including reinsurance giant American International Group Inc. AIG, -0.35%, food and beverage company Kraft-Heinz Co. KHC, +0.10%, and
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