Stock futures rose Wednesday morning, reversing some Tuesday losses that sent each of the Dow and S&P 500 off more than 1% by the closing bell.
These declines came after a STAT News report late during the regular trading day questioned the significance of the data Moderna (MRNA) provided in assessing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Tuesday’s dip erased some of the gains made during a roaring session Monday, during which optimism over Moderna’s vaccine data had contributed in part to the advance.
Some more upbeat developments, however, continued to trickle in surrounding the pandemic. In the hard-hit state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing Tuesday that another 105 individuals lost their lives from the coronavirus as of Monday, with this sum nearly matching the death toll from late March and coming down significantly from the hundreds of new daily deaths recorded in early April.
Elsewhere, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday afternoon that he was lifting mandatory stay in place orders and instead designating these measures as “strong recommendations,” albeit while keeping restaurants and some other businesses under stricter restrictions. Meanwhile, an earlier report from South Korean health officials suggested that individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 and recovered had a level of protection from reinfection and transmission.
But even as the health crisis appears to have eased by some measures in some areas, the economic distress induced by the crisis and social distancing measures remains on full display. New data Tuesday morning showed new U.S. housing starts and building permits fell to the lowest levels since early 2015 in April, signaling the far-reaching impact of the pandemic on activity across virtually all sectors of the economy.
And in congressional testimony Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there was “the risk of permanent damage” if states take too long in reopening, thereby keeping an anchor on employment and business activity. Still, his baseline assumption is that economic conditions will improve in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
His testimony came alongside remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said before the Senate Banking Committee he expects the Fed’s Main Street Lending Program aimed at providing loans to small- and medium-sized businesses will launch by the end of the month or first few days of June.
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