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Day Ahead: Top 3 Things to Watch for April 2

By Kim Khan 

Investing.com - Without expectation for a positive economic event, like the stimulus package, Wall Street is finding itself reacting to increasing Covid-19 infection and death figures, and finding little support agains thte selling.

Florida, the third-most populated state in the country, finally issued a stay-at-home order as U.S. infections topped 200,000.

The numbers won’t be encouraging when it comes to economic data tomorrow. But a report from Walgreens might help with transparency on testing.

Here are three things that could move the markets tomorrow.

1. Jobless Claims in the Millions Again

Initial jobless claims gave the market the first grim picture of a coronavirus-hit economy last week and the numbers are expected to be even grimmer tomorrow.

The Labor Department will release the weekly figures at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT).

Economists expect claims for first-time unemployment benefits to have jumped by 3.5 million last week. Continuing claims are seen coming in at about 4.8 million.

But the numbers could certainly be worse, with the New York State Labor Department, between March 23 and March 28, receiving more than 8.2 million calls compared with just 50,000 in a typical week, Investing.com’s Kathy Lien said.

If there can be a positive way to look at the numbers, it may be that a large number of claims means that displaced workers are availing themselves of the backstop support provided in the stimulus bill. That would keep much-needed disposable income in the economy.

2. Layoffs Numbers Also Arriving

Also on the jobs front, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas will issue its report on March layoffs at 7:30 AM ET (11:30 GMT).

It’s not clear how much of the March shutdowns the survey will have captured, but on Monday Challenger reported on an online survey of more than 250 companies.

Almost 50% of the companies said they were at least somewhat likely to lay off staff due to Covid-19 and more than a third have instituted a hiring freeze, Challenger said, according to CNBC.

The survey was conducted from March 20-26, a time when coronavirus cases in the U.S. were around 18,000, compared with 200,000 passed today.

3. Walgreens Could Give Testing Update

Dow component Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) reports earnings before the bell tomorrow and numbers won’t mean as much as its assessment of the economy from the perspective of an essential retailer.

Investors will also be looking for an update on testing for Covid-19, with many complaining the U.S. is still not testing nearly enough, especially when compared to nations like South Korea.

On March 13, Walgreens was named by the White House as one of the companies dedicating space in parking lots to facilitate testing, but that hasn’t started yet.

Analysts are expecting the drugstore chain earned a quarterly profit of $1.46 per share on sales of about $35.3 billion, according to forecasts compiled by Investing.com.

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