Market Snapshot: Stock futures aim higher as investors remain focused on coronavirus spread outside China

U.S. stock index futures were trading modestly higher Wednesday as investors looked for a respite from a selling stampede that has sent equities sharply lower over the past four days amid rising worries about the spread of COVID-19 outside of China.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

YM00, +0.29%

 were up 44 points, or 0.2%, at 27,161, while S&P 500 futures

ES00, +0.39%

 rose 8.15 points, or 0.3%, to 3,140.75. Nasdaq-100 futures

NQ00, +0.60%

 were off 38.5 points, or 0.4%, at 8,892.75.

The Dow

DJIA, +0.77%

 on Tuesday dropped 879.44 points, or 3.2%, to 27,081.36, while the S&P 500

SPX, +0.84%

 shed 97.68 points, or 3%, to close at 3,128.21. The Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +1.05%

 dropped 225.67 points, or 2.8%, to finish at 8,965.61. Tuesday’s decline was the fourth straight for all three major indexes.

What’s driving the market

Equities attempted to recover on Wednesday even as worries about the rapid spread of COVID-19 outside of China continue to hang over markets, analysts said. The number of confirmed cases and deaths outside China has continued to rise, particularly in Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea. Stocks extended losses Tuesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

COVID-19 case tally: 81,191 cases, 2,768 deaths

“All these developments add further credence to our view that the effects of the virus may not prove as temporary as many initially believed and that the economic wounds could well drag into Q2,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, in a note.

“With the spreading outside China appearing to be out of control at the moment, and with the world’s largest economy signaling that it is not immune to the virus, we believe that there is still room for equities to keep sliding, and safe havens to attract flows,” Pissouros said.

Analysts said stocks may be due for a near-term bounce from the rout. Losses were particularly sharp Monday and Tuesday, with the Dow falling 6.6% over the past two sessions, the S&P 500 down 6.3% and the Nasdaq off 6.4%.

Read: Why one quantitative analyst says stocks may have seen their ‘darkest day’

For the S&P 500, the two-day decline was the largest since August 2015, while the slump was the biggest for the Dow since February 2018 and the largest for the Nasdaq since June 2016, in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

The U.S. economic calendar is light, featuring data on new home sales for January at 10 a.m. Eastern. MarketWatch-polled analysts expect sales to run at an annualized pace of 722,000.

Which companies are in focus?
How are other markets trading?

Oil futures continued to see weakness. The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery

CLJ20, -0.56%

  on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell more than 1% to $49.37 a barrel.

In precious metals, Gold

GCJ20, -0.84%

 fell 0.9% to trade at $1,634 an ounce.

Demand for haven assets weakened as stock-futures traded higher. The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield

TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.67%

  was up 3 basis points to 1.359%. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

The U.S dollar index

DXY, +0.22%

  was up 0.2% against a basket of its currency rivals.

Asian markets added to their drop, with Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, -0.79%

  closing lower by 0.8%. China’s CSI

000300, -1.23%

 index, which tracks mainland-listed stocks, fell 1.2%.

European stocks pared their losses, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index down 0.1%. The FTSE MIB in Italy

I945, +1.29%

 , which has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, rose 1.2%.

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