Stock futures gain despite coronavirus worries

Verizon and American Express report earnings before the bell

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U.S. equity futures are pointing to a higher open after a Thursday rally fizzled in the end.

The major futures indexes are indicating a rise of 0.6 percent when trading begins on Friday.

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This week’s earnings parade wraps up with a pair of Dow members – Verizon and American Express – reporting ahead of the opening bell.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
VZVERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC.60.58+0.17+0.28%
AXPAMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY120.59+0.01+0.01%

In the Thursday session, the S&P 500 skidded by a third from its record in February until a month ago, and since then has roughly halved its losses on a series of tenuous hopes — of businesses reopening, of government aid to temper the economic pain and of possible treatments for COVID-19.

A report from the Financial Times on Thursday afternoon undercut that third hope. It said a potential antiviral drug flopped in a clinical trial, citing documents published accidentally by the World Health Organization.

However, the sample size was too small to draw scientifically valid conclusions and ended early. The Foster City, Calif.-based company behind the drug, Gilead Sciences, said the data represented “inappropriate characterizations” of the China study.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GILDGILEAD SCIENCES INC.60.03+0.53+0.89%

Gilead's shares flipped from a 3.3 percent gain to a 4.3 percent loss after the report. It also helped topple the market.

The S&P 500 finished at 2,797.80, down 1.51 points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39.44 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,515.26 after losing almost all of a 409-point gain. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.63 points to 8,494.75.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES29910.37+37.90+0.13%
SP500S&P 5003638.35+8.70+0.24%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12205.846315+111.44+0.92%

In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei slipped 0.9 percent,  Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent and China's Shanghai Composite was off 1.1 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE fell 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX dropped 0.8 percent and France's CAC declined 0.8 percent.

Another 4.4 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, raising the total over the last five weeks to 26 million, or roughly one in six U.S. workers.

Analysts said investors may have found some encouragement in a dip from the prior week's 5.2 million or were looking past the dismal data because they fully expected it.

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U.S. benchmark crude is flat to $16.53 a barrel. It rose 19.7 percent to settle at $16.50 a barrel. It has recovered after falling below $12 Monday, though it remains well below the roughly $60 level it started the year at. Brent crude, the international standard, gaining 35 cents to $21.70 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.