Equity futures drop after the White House unveiled predictions of a staggering jump in the U.S. death toll and extensive economic damage from the coronavirus, plus stocks to watch today in the Money & Markets Opening Bell.

The Top Story

Index futures pointed to another down day on Wall Street after President Donald Trump called the COVID-19 pandemic a “plague,” and the White House said between 100,000 and 240,000 people could die as a result of it.

“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before,” Trump said at a White House press conference late Tuesday.

The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country across the globe with 184,000 confirmed infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said reports measuring U.S. economic activity are likely to be “very bad” in the first half of 2020 and the unemployment rate could rise above 10% due to efforts to stem the outbreak.

The rapid worldwide spread of the disease has forced entire countries to shut down, stalling business activity and raising fears of corporate defaults.

The S&P 500 lost about $5.6 trillion in market value to post its worst first quarter on record, while the Dow Jones ended Tuesday with its biggest quarterly fall since 1987.

As of 8 a.m. EDT, Dow futures were down 3.3%. S&P 500 futures fell 3.2% and Nasdaq Composite futures were off 2.7%.

Stocks to Watch Today

Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR) — The international hotel chain said it has suffered a data breach impacting more than five million guests worldwide. The company said an investigation into the breach is ongoing. Shares of Marriott International were down 6.7%.

Xerox Holdings Corp. (NYSE: XRX) — Shares of the print and digital documents company were down 2.3% after it has withdrawn its $30 billion tender offer to acquire HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ). The company said the global health crisis has caused market turmoil and has “created an environment that is not conducive” to the acquisition.

Inflarx NV (Nasdaq: IFRX) — The German-based biopharmaceutical company said it has dosed the first COVID-19 patient in a random clinical trial testing its IFX-1 drug in the Netherlands. Shares of Inflarx NV were up 75%.

News You Can Use

Potential homebuyers appear to be running from the real estate market … quickly.

Mortgage applications to buy a home dropped 11% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly index — 24% lower than a year ago.

But while new home applications were down, the survey found refinance applications jumped 26% last week and were 168% higher than a year ago thanks to lower interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages.

Apple Buys Weather App Dark Sky

Weather information app Dark Sky has been bought by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL). Terms of the deal were not made available.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone,” the company said.

However, according to Dark Sky’s blog, it will discontinue its Android and Wear apps. It is also stopping new applications for its API. Its API will continue to work through 2021 for existing customers.

Gas Prices Lowest in 4 Years

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. is below $2 — the lowest price in four years — according to AAA.

Dropping prices are due to slumping demand as more and more people shelter at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus. There’s also an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that has flooded the market with millions of barrels of oil per day.

What We’re Reading

3 Stocks to Buy After the COVID-19 Crash (Money & Markets)

What Happens to Our Food Supply if Farmers Can’t Farm? (CNN Business)

Wells Fargo Warns US Debt Will Surge by $1.4T in Q2 (Money & Markets)

Earnings Report

Here are the companies releasing earnings reports today:

iMedia Brands Inc. (Nasdaq: IMBI)

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LW)


Stealth Biotherapeutics Corp. (Nasdaq: MITO)

Unifirst Corp. (NYSE: UNF)

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