Outbreak boosts jobless claims to record, US cases post steep rise

Outbreak boosts jobless claims to record, US cases post steep rise

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 480,446
  • Global deaths: At least 21,571
  • US cases: At least 69,197
  • US deaths: At least 1,046

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

8:47 am: Ford plans to restart production at ‘key’ auto plants starting in early April

8:30 am: Weekly jobless claims soar to 3.28 million

Americans displaced by the coronavirus crisis filed unemployment claims in record numbers, with the Labor Department reporting a surge to 3.28 million for the week ended March 21.

The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. Businesses across the country have shut down amid a policy of social distancing aimed at keeping the virus’s growth in check. Individual states have reported websites crashing amid a rush to file. —Jeff Cox

8:19 am: German employment index hits lowest since Jan 2010

The Ifo economic institute’s German employment barometer fell in March to its lowest level since January 2010, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported, adding that the drop is the biggest since records began in 2002.

“German companies are putting the brakes on personnel planning,” Ifo expert Klaus Wohlrabe said of the data, which the Munich institute calculates monthly for Handelsblatt based on the employment intentions of around 9,000 companies.

“A rise in unemployment will be unavoidable despite short-time work,” Wohlrabe said, referring to a government-backed scheme that allows firms to put workers on shorter hours. —Reuters

8:18 am: Swiss coronavirus cases top 10,000, with 161 deaths

Switzerland has 10,714 confirmed coronavirus infections and 161 people have died of the disease, the Federal Office of Public Health said on Thursday. The numbers were up to date as of 0715 GMT, it said. —Reuters

8:01 am: Dow futures down 300 points as traders brace for jobless claims report

People gather at the entrance for the New York State Department of Labor offices, which closed to the public due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., March 20, 2020.

Andrew Kelly | REUTERS

U.S. stock futures fell in early morning trading as investors looked ahead to the national weekly initial jobless claims data, which are expected to show a record-breaking spike.

Dow futures indicated an opening drop of more than 300 points at the market open. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures pointed to opening losses of more than 1%. National weekly initial jobless claims data will be out 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are projecting record-shattering numbers—Fred Imbert, Pippa Stevens, Eustance Huang

7:45 am: Fed chief Powell’s message to Americans: ‘The Federal Reserve is working hard to support you’

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Americans the central bank is working hard to support them during these unprecedented financial conditions. 

“The Federal Reserve is working hard to support you now, and our policies will be very important when the recovery does come, to make that recovery as strong as possible,” Powell said on NBC’s “Today.” 

“Really the message is this: This is a unique situation, its not like a typical downturn. We’ve asked people to step back from economic activity really to make an investment in our public health. They’re doing that for the public good and this bill that’s just passed is going to try to provide relief and stability to those people,” Powell added. —Maggie Fitzgerald

7:23 pm: US cases posting steeper rise than most

In the U.S., the rapid increase in the distribution of coronavirus test kits has likely accelerated the pace of reported and confirmed cases. Cumulative case counts also don’t account for how many patients have recovered or for lags in reporting cases and differences in reporting methods.

Still, researchers say that even incomplete data is critical to current efforts to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the pandemic — from the steep rise in the initial phases to a more gradual increase as efforts to contain the outbreak take effect. —John Schoen

7:00 am: Here’s what’s in the $2 trillion US stimulus bill

The Senate approved an unprecedented stimulus bill, estimated to cost $2 trillion, as Congress tries to lessen the pandemic’s human and economic toll. The chamber passed the legislation Wednesday night as workers face widespread layoffs, hospitals and states starve for resources and businesses small and large worry about their survival. The House aims to pass it by Friday. The bill is designed to offer relief to individuals, the health care system and even an entire corporate sector ravaged by the outbreak. Here’s what’s in it. —Jacob Pramuk

6:57 am: Spain reports over 8,000 new cases as death toll rises

In this handout from the Comunidad de Madrid, health workers prepare to receive the first patients with coronavirus at Ifema exhibition complex on March 22, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.

Comunidad de Madrid | Getty Images

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain has risen by 8,578 in the last 24 hours, the country’s health ministry announced Thursday. That takes the total number of cases in Spain to 56,188.

The death toll in Spain rose to 4,089 on Thursday, up from 3,434 the previous day. Spain’s death toll has surpassed China’s, where the official number of fatalities stands at 3,291. —Holly Ellyatt

5:59 am: Iran starts intercity travel ban

Iran has started an intercity travel ban, an Iranian official said in a televised news conference, Reuters reported. The ban comes a day after Iran’s government spokesman warned the country might face a surge of COVID-19 cases. Officials have been critical of Iranians who have ignored appeals to stay at home and cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20. Iran has recorded 27,017 confirmed cases of the virus, and has reported just over 2,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. —Holly Ellyatt

5:40 am: UK retail sales failed to grow in February

A lady shopper with a striped bag outside the window of fashion brand Superdry, on 18th April 2017, in London, England.

Richard Baker | In Pictures via Getty Images

British retail sales failed to grow at all in February, marking their weakest performance since 2013, official figures show. When compared with the same month a year earlier, retail sales in the U.K. for February 2020 remained flat; the lowest year-on-year growth rate since March 2013, the Office for National Statistics said. The lackluster data reflects poor sales even before most retailers were forced to close because of the lockdown due to the coronavirus. —Holly Ellyatt

5:30 am: US envoy blames China for endangering world with coronavirus

The U.S. ambassador to London said China had put the world in danger by suppressing information about the coronavirus outbreak.

“First it tried to suppress the news,” Ambassador Woody Johnson wrote in an article for U.K. newspaper The Times. “Had China done the right things at the right time, more of its own population, and the rest of the world, might have been spared the most serious impact of this disease,” the ambassador said. —Holly Ellyatt

4:50 pm: European stocks decline ahead of upcoming US jobs data

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