Stock futures trade lower ahead of economic reports

Wednesday's economic reports will show the impact of the coronavirus

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U.S. equity futures are pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, ahead of economic reports that will show the impact of the coronavirus.

The major futures indexes are indicating a decline of 1.7 percent when trading begins.

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Retail sales for March will get most of the attention. The anticipated 8.0 percent decline would be the steepest monthly loss on record.

Meantime, the New York Fed’s Manufacturing Index is expected to plunge to a record-low -35.0 in April.

Industrial production for the month of March is expected to tumble 4 percent, the largest decline since September 2008 at the height of the great recession.

The NAHB’s home builder sentiment index for April is expected to plunge to 55, the lowest since May 2015.

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said the global economy will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IMF's latest forecast said this year's global economic output will shrink by 3 percent, a bigger loss than 2009's 0.1 percent decline. That was a marked reverse from the Fund's previous forecast in January of 3.3 percent growth before the virus prompted governments to shut down factories, travel and other industries.

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In Asia on Wednesday, the Nikkei in Tokyo declined 0.5 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 1.2 percent and China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.6 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE dropped 2.1 percent, Germany's DAX fell 2 percent and France's CAC was off 1.8 percent.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27147.7-509.72-1.84%
SP500S&P 5003281.06-38.41-1.16%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX10778.79817-14.48-0.13%

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index climbed 3.1 percent on Tuesday. The benchmark index surged 12 percent last week, though it is about 16 percent below its all-time high set in February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.4 percent.

President Trump has been discussing with officials how to roll back federal social distancing recommendations that expire at the end of the month. And governors around the U.S. have begun collaborating on plans to reopen their economies in what is likely to be a gradual process to prevent the coronavirus from rebounding.

The discussions follow signs the outbreak may be leveling off in some of the hardest-hit areas, including New York City.

In Italy, Spain and other places around Europe where infections and deaths have begun stabilizing, the process of reopening economies is already underway. Some businesses and industries are allowed to reopen in a calibrated effort aimed at balancing public health against their countries’ economic well-being.

While Wall Street expects profits will be down for most companies in the S&P 500, the focus is on what management teams have to say about what profits look like for the rest of the year.

Analysts are forecasting a drop of roughly 10 percent in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies for the first quarter and 21 percent for the second quarter.

Benchmark U.S. crude declined 71 cents to $19.41 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $2.30, or 10.3 percent, on Tuesday to close at $20.11.

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Brent crude, the standard for international oils, fell $1.21 to $28.43 per barrel in London. It dropped $2.14 the previous session to close at $29.60 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.