5 things to know before the stock market opens May 20, 2020

5 things to know before the stock market opens May 20, 2020


1. Dow set to recover much of Tuesday’s losses

The Dow came under pressure in the final hour of trading after a STAT News report raised concerns about Monday’s trial results for a potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna. Shares of the Massachusetts-based biotech were under pressure in Wednesday’s premarket, one day after dropping 10.4%. The stock, which surged nearly 20% on Monday, has rocketed over 250% higher this year.

Following Tuesday’s Senate testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the government’s coronavirus economic response, the Fed releases the minutes from its April meeting. No further interest rate or monetary stimulus action was taken.

2. Target, Lowe’s report first-quarter earnings

Target’s 141% surge in digital sales fueled first-quarter revenue, but the big-box retailer’s earnings showed it paid a hefty price for that growth as labor costs rose and sales of higher-margin items, such as apparel, dropped. Target’s same-store sales grew by 10.8% in the quarter from a year earlier. Like many companies, Target withdrew full-year outlook due uncertainty related to the pandemic. Shares were higher in the premarket Wednesday.

Lowe’s shares surged in Wednesday’s premarket trading after the home improvement chain reported strong earnings and revenue in the first quarter. The company said it invested $340 million in Q1 to support associates and communities during the coronavirus crisis. Like rival Home Depot, Lowe’s withdrew its full-year 2020 guidance. Home Depot on Tuesday reported strong sales but lighter profit.

3. New CEO takes over at United Airlines

United Airlines president Scott Kirby speaks before the departure of the “Flight for the Planet”, the most eco-friendly commercial flight in history of aviation, according to the airline, from O’Hare International Airport to Los Angeles, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 5, 2019.

Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters

Scott Kirby takes the reins as CEO of United on Wednesday at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the airline industry. United has scrambled to raise and conserve cash, including debt and equity sales. The carrier has also warned of job cuts this fall if air travel demand doesn’t return. The 52-year-old Kirby, United’s president since August 2016, faces the greatest challenge of his more than two decade career, during which he has navigated bankruptcies, mergers, the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. Oscar Munoz announced plans December to step aside as CEO and become executive chairman.

4. Swing states divided on virus; give Trump edge

Joe Biden and Donald Trump

Ron Adar | Echoes Wire | Barcroft Media via Getty Images: Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Voters in swing states are sharply divided along partisan lines over the coronavirus pandemic with just six months to go before Election Day, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. Democrats and Republicans in the key electoral states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin disagree over whether there is likely to be a second wave of Covid-19 cases and who is to blame if there is.

In a hypothetical presidential match-up, President Donald Trump holds a narrow, 48%-46% lead over Joe Biden among all the battleground voters surveyed, including a wider 41%-32% lead among independents. Trump also leads Biden 51%-40% in who would do a better job handling the economy. The two are in a statistical tie over who would do a better job handling coronavirus.

5. CBO sees 38% contraction in Q2 economy 

Capitol Hill signs ask for more PPE masks for healthcare workers in Washington, D. C. on April 17, 2020.

Ashley Stringer | CNBC

Even as major companies begin to resume operations and states start to relax coronavirus lock downs, the Congressional Budget Office predicts a 38% contraction in second-quarter gross domestic product. The CBO, while hopeful for jobs gains later this year, said the overall economic climate will remain subdued through 2021.

The Treasury issues 20-year bonds for the first time in 34 years, in a bid to extend the length of time it has to pay off its record debt. The new bonds should be met with a good reception when the Treasury holds a $20 billion auction Wednesday afternoon. The government considered issuing 50-year and 100-year bonds but decided against it due to lack of demand.

— Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC’s live markets blog.


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