Stock market index futures pushed slightly higher but remained on shaky ground as investors stayed on the sidelines in the face of rising coronavirus cases across the country, plus stocks to watch today in the Money & Markets Opening Bell.

The Top Story

The Nasdaq hit an intraday record high on Tuesday but all three main stock indexes closed lower as investors booked profits following more strong economic data.

Futures pushed slightly higher Wednesday despite the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassing 3 million — affecting nearly one of every 100. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas broke their previous daily record for new infections.

The latest surge, which has forced some states and local authorities to pause reopening plans, will delay an economic recovery.

Early movers Wednesday included Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) which fell 0.4% after announcing they were acquiring National General Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: NGHC) for around $4 billion in cash (see more below).

As of 9:20 a.m. EDT, Dow Jones futures were up 0.07%. S&P 500 futures moved 0.14% higher and Nasdaq futures were up 0.35%.

Stocks to Watch Today

GenMark Diagnostics Inc. (Nasdaq: GNMK) — The molecular testing company reported its preliminary second-quarter revenue would be 118% higher than the previous year. The company said its revenue is expected to be around $40.1 million. Shares of GenMark were up more than 10%.

Levi Strauss & Co. (NYSE: LEVI) — Shares of the American clothing company were down nearly 5% after reporting weaker-than-expected revenue and announcing it’s laying off nearly 700 workers. The company posted a net loss of $363.5 million for the second quarter.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) — The movie theater chain is reportedly close to a deal to hold off a bankruptcy filing by using private equity to keep the company afloat. Shares of AMC Entertainment were up 12.1%.

Mortgage Demand Continues to Climb as Rates Tumble

Homebuyers rushed back to the mortgage market last week, taking advantage of record-low mortgage rates.

Mortgage applications to buy a home jumped 5% last week and were 33% higher than a year ago, according to research from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Buyer demand has been strong since May after the coronavirus shut down most of the economy in March and April. The biggest hurdle for homebuyers now is a record-low supply of homes for sale across the U.S.

Allstate Buying Insurance Rival National General Holdings for $4B

Insurance behemoth Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) has agreed to acquire rival National General Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: NGHC) for $4 billion in cash.

National General shareholders will receive $34.50 per share, $32.00 per share from Allstate and closing dividends of $2.50 per share, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Allstate will finance the deal with $2.2 billion in cash reserves and by issuing $1.5 billion in new senior debt. The deal, which also includes a $132.5 million breakup fee, is expected to close in early 2021.

One of the Hottest Hedge Funds Isn’t Working

The world’s most popular hedge fund isn’t working anymore.

According to Bloomberg, Lansdowne Partners shut down its long-short equity fund, suggesting the future may not be bright for investors who make money betting on winning stocks and shorting losers.

The reasons for dumping the hedge fund include the fact the market remains moving upward despite the coronavirus and interest rates are expected to remain at zero for a while, creating a potential tailwind for stocks.

What We’re Reading

Hope Isn’t Enough for a Fast Economic Recovery — Watch These Sectors (Money & Markets)

Hunting for Value? 1 Way to Capitalize on Buffett’s $10B Pipeline Deal (Money & Markets)

Safer Bond Markets Abroad Spell Doom for the Dollar (Money & Markets)

Earnings Report

Here are the companies releasing earnings reports today:

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBY)

Exfo Inc. (Nasdaq: EXFO)

MSC Industrial Direct Co. Inc. (NYSE: MSM)

Northern Technologies International Corp. (Nasdaq: NTIC)

Simply Good Foods Co. (Nasdaq: SMPL)

Check back each morning before the opening bell for stocks to watch today with Opening Bell, here on Money & Markets.