A man wears a mask on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange, March 3, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
This is a live blog. Check back for updates.
8:39 am: Fed to release minutes from meeting where it took rates to zero
Investors will get a better idea why Federal Reserve officials last month voted to slash their benchmark interest rate to near zero. Minutes from the March 15 emergency Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released Wednesday at 2 p.m. and will detail the decision-making behind the move. The original meeting date was March 17-18 but was moved up due to the coronavirus crisis. In addition to that meeting the FOMC also has held a series of unscheduled votes on other measures it has taken to aid markets and the economy during the period. – Cox
8:31 am: Oil moves higher, lifting energy stocks in premarket trading
Oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, one day before OPEC+ is set to hold a virtual meeting to discuss possible production cuts. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 1.65% to trade at $24.02 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude rose 21 cents to $32.08. The move higher lifted the energy sector during Wednesday’s premarket trading. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) gained 1.56%, with Devon Energy, Diamondback Energy, Marathon Oil and Apache all more than 4% higher. Exxon and Chevron, the U.S.’ largest oil companies, were 2.1% and 1.3% higher, respectively. – Stevens
8:16 am: Investors hunt for positives, but strategists warn about a return to the lows
As the market has traded in mostly positive territory this week, investors are picking over the hardest hit sectors. Airline stocks were higher Wednesday, and there’s been a trend this week where the sectors that had been hardest hit during the shutdown of the economy have been doing better than some of those that did best during state stay at home orders, like consumer staples. But as investors look for improvements in virus cases, strategists warn the market is likely to retest the lows of March 23. – Domm
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surpassed 400,000, according to figures provided by NBC, with 12,864 fatalities nationwide. NBC’s count is slightly higher than that of Johns Hopkins University, which counted 399,929 cases as of Wednesday morning.
The number of daily coronavirus deaths rose in Spain for the second day as 757 people died over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said. On Tuesday, the death toll had risen by 743 from the previous day. The total number of fatalities has risen to 14,555, the ministry said. The overall number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 146,690 up from 140,510 on Tuesday, it added.
There are now more than 1,446,500 cases worldwide, and at least 82,992 deaths. – Stevens
7:47 am: Tesla will slash employee pay and furlough employees
Tesla will cut pay for all of its salaried employees and will furlough hourly workers until May 4, when it intends to resume production of electric cars, according to an internal e-mail that multiple employees shared with CNBC. The pay reductions are expected to be in place until the end of the second quarter.
Health orders, implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19, forced Elon Musk’s electric car company to wind down production at its main vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California. Shares of Tesla gained 1.5% in Wednesday’s premarket trading. – Kolodny
7:43 am: Billionaire investor Howard Marks says it’s time to stop being defensive
Billionaire investor Howard Marks, who a few months ago warned peers to use extreme caution, now thinks it’s time to ease up on defense. The Oaktree Capital co-founder said that a number of conditions in the market have changed in recent weeks that make risk assets more attractive. “Given these new conditions, I no longer feel defense should be favored,” Marks said in one of his widely-read memos. He adds: “The risks in the environment are recognized and largely understood.” — Franck
7:22 am: Stock futures point to modest gains at the open
U.S. stock index futures are pointing to modest gains at the opening bell, after a volatile overnight trading session that saw swings between gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to open 88 points, or 0.37%, higher, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 are set to rise 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
Stocks closed little changed on Tuesday, but the numbers themselves disguise the action in the session. The Dow swung nearly 985 points from its high to low, before closing 26 points lower. Investors cheered positive coronavirus headlines and some of the sectors that have been hit the hardest since the pandemic began — such as airlines and cruise lines — moved sharply higher. But by the final hour of trading sentiment shifted and stocks gave back their gains.
Given Monday’s rally, the major averages are all still up more than 6% for the holiday-shortened week. – Stevens
– CNBC’s Patti Domm and Jeff Cox contributed reporting.
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