Market Snapshot: Dow futures skid over 250 points lower amid lack of fiscal stimulus, renewed coronavirus lockdowns in Europe

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U.S. stock-index futures were trading sharply lower early Thursday, suggesting a third day of falls for equities, following losses in Asia and Europe overnight as new restrictions were imposed to combat rising coronavirus cases in many parts of the world.

Market participants were also awaiting the weekly U.S. unemployment claims data and a host of Federal Reserve speakers.

How are stock benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, -1.00% YMZ20, -1.00% was trading 259 points, or 1%, lower at 28,155, those for the S&P 500 index ES00, -1.06% ESZ20, -1.06% declined 34.65 to reach 3,446.25, a drop of 1%, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, -1.48% NQZ20, -1.48% slumped by 1.3%, a fall of 155.75 to 11,818.50.

On Wednesday DJIA, -0.57%  slumped 165.81 points, 0.6%, to finish at 28,514.00, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.66% fell 23.26 points, 0.7%, to end at 3,488.67. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.80%  dropped 95.17 points, or 0.8%, to close at 11,768.73. All three benchmarks traded in positive territory earlier in the session.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Transport Average DJT, +0.88% rose 104.27 points, or 0.9%, to a record high of 11,887.49, its fifth record close for October, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Read: Dow transports rallies toward a record, to buck the broader stock market’s selloff

What’s driving the market?

Concern about the impact of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and fading hopes for any further fiscal stimulus from Congress before the November elections are weighing on investor sentiment, while digesting third quarter earnings reports.

“Renewed health concerns and tighter restrictions around Europe are hammering stocks this morning,“ wrote David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.

France joined the U.K. in imposing fresh social restrictions, including declaring a state of emergency and a nightly curfew in a number of metropolitan regions across the country. The U.K. has been tightening social restrictions also to help limit the spread of the outbreak.

Read: Coronavirus tally: Global cases of COVID-19 38.6 million, 1.09 million deaths and U.S. close to 217,000 deaths

Against that backdrop, market participants have been reacting to a news a lack of progress in negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S> Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to strike a deal on an additional round of stimulus to help stem economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. Talks have been stalled for weeks but investors have placed bets that a deal of some kind will be struck if not after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, then early in 2021.

Meanwhile, investors have been poring over corporate earnings, with the last of the major Wall Street banks, Morgan Stanley MS, +0.41% posting a third-quarter profit of $2.7 billion, or $1.66 per share, besting consensus estimates for $1.28 by Refinitiv and producing revenue of $11.7 billion that were 16% better than a year ago. Morgan Stanley’s report comes after Bank of America BAC, -5.33%, JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.55%, Citigroup C, -1.48% and Wells Fargo & Co. WFC, -6.02%, all reported mixed results.

Dow component Walgreens Boots Alliance WBA, -0.74%, meanwhile, also reporting better-than-expected results.

Looking ahead, U.S. weekly jobless claims data, a closely watched high-frequency date point in the pandemic era, is to be released at 8.30 a.m. Eastern. Economists expect the data to show an additional 830,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

Investors also await regional readings on regional manufacturing activity, including the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing and the Empire State Manufacturing indexes.

Among Fed speakers, Raphael Bostic, president of Federal Reserve Bank, of Atlanta, a nonvoting member of the central bank this year, will speak at 9 a.m.; Randal Quarles, vice chairman of supervision at the Fed will deliver a speech about the response to COVID to the Institute of International Finance at 11 a.m., while Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is set to speak at the U.S. India Chamber of Commerce at the same time.

Later in the day, Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin, non-voter, talks to Economic Club of New York at 2 p.m., and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kaskari, will speak about the U.S. economic outlook to the New York University Stern School at 5 p.m.

Which stocks are in focus?

  • Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance Incjumped in premarket trading Thursday, after the drugstore services company reported a fiscal fourth-quarter profit that fell less than expected, while revenue rose above forecasts.
  • YogaWorks Inc. YOGA, +24.09% the chain of studios and international yoga schools, has filed for chapter 11.
  • Shares of Roku Inc. fell in premarket trading Thursday, to extend their pullback from a record close earlier this week, after KeyBanc Capital analyst Justin Patterson backed away from his longtime bullish stance, citing concerns over valuation.
  • Tiffany & Co. TIF, +0.08%  offered guidance for the fourth quarter on Thursday, saying it expects a mid-single digit percentage decline in sales compared with the year-earlier period and a mid-single digit percentage increase in operating earnings.
  • Shares of Tesla Inc. TSLA, +3.28%  dropped in premarket trading Thursday, putting them on track to snap a 6-day win streak, even as Baird analyst Ben Kallo boosted his price target by 25%.
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. VRTX, -1.67% stock was in focus Thursday after the biotech company said it would stop developing a drug to treat an inherited protein deficiency that can cause lung and liver disease.
  • Fastly Inc. shares FSLY, -4.38% plummeted more than 25% in after-hours trading Wednesday, after the software company said that its largest customer, TikTok parent Bytedance Inc., didn’t use its product as much as expected amid a threatened ban in the U.S.
  • Wells Fargo & Co. fired more than 100 employees for allegedly defrauding a federal pandemic-relief program.