Stock futures add to market gains, reopening strategy eyed

Stock futures added to the regular session’s gains on Tuesday evening, indicating a higher opening when Wall Street begins Wednesday’s trading, as investors continue to price in the possibility of more states relaxing restrictive stay-at-home orders that have decimated U.S. economic growth.

Wall Street ended a choppy session led by a strong rebound in oil (CL=F), which skyrocketed by 20% on Tuesday to settle at $24.56, its fifth consecutive session of advances. Crude, along with major benchmarks, had been under intense selling pressure as the coronavirus demand shock converged with an oversupplied market, and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Across the U.S., cases as a whole rose to more than 1.1 million, with deaths topping 67,000. In New York state, the latest reported daily death toll was 230, roughly flat from the day prior, and fewer than 700 people were newly hospitalized. In California, the daily death toll was 39 on Monday, the lowest in three weeks. California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state’s lockdown restrictions will begin loosening on Friday.

The New York metro area accounts for roughly 1/6 of the U.S. total. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Other states have already begun to reopen businesses — including Georgia, Florida and Texas. Those regions are being watched for signs that loosening the economically crippling stay-in-place orders can provide a boost to economic activity, but without sparking a new wave of infections that could lead to a devastating second round of lockdowns.

“The reopening of economies has prompted concerns about a second wave of infections and potential double dip in the economy. We readily admit that many unknowns concerning the virus remain, but we do expect additional waves of infections to occur,” Morgan Stanley wrote in a research note this week.

“However, we take comfort that the phased reopening, the scaling up of public health authorities’ ability to test and trace on a meaningful level, the development of medical solutions to treat and prevent the disease and the awareness of the population at large mean we have a much better chance to reduce the size and scope of future outbreaks,” the bank added.

Meanwhile, more signs of distress emerged from key industries undermined by social distancing measures at containing the virus’ march.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) said Tuesday morning it had “substantial doubt” about its “ability to continue” in the current environment, with the pandemic potentially driving a lasting impact on consumers’ willingness to take cruises.

After market close Monday, L Brands (LB) said it and private equity firm Sycamore Partners struck a deal to terminate a previously announced deal to have the latter take a majority state in Victoria’s Secret and take it private. And earlier, J.Crew’s parent company Chinos Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, converting nearly $2 billion in debt to equity and transferring ownership as the beleaguered retailer struggled to maintain sales as hundreds of physical locations shuttered during the outbreak.

6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open slightly higher

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:20 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 5.75 points, to 2,864

  • Dow futures (YM=F): up 36 points to 23,797

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up +24.75 to 8,949.00

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