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Stocks - U.S. Futures Higher Amid Optimism Over Virus

By Peter Nurse - U.S. stocks are set to open higher Monday, as investors take comfort from tentative signs the spread of coronavirus is slowing.

At 7:30 AM ET (1130 GMT), futures for the S&P 500 traded 92 points, or 3.7%, higher, futures for the Nasdaq up 281 points, or 3.7%. The Dow futures contract rose 769 points, or 3.7%. 

On Sunday, New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported a drop in the number of new infections and deaths. President Donald Trump voiced hope coronavirus cases were "levelling off" in U.S. hotspots, saying he saw "light at the end of the tunnel".

However, Surgeon-General Jerome Adams warned on Sunday that the coming week will be "“the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.” The U.S. has reported over 337,000 confirmed infections from Covid-19, by far the highest tally in the world, and over 9,600 deaths.

In Europe, a week or so ahead of the U.S. in terms of the timing of the virus outbreak, figures from Spain, Italy, Germany and France suggested containment measures are limiting the spread of the disease. .

In corporate news , JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual statement to shareholders that the economic slowdown will "include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008."

Dimon said the bank would offer measures such as waivers for late fees and a 90-day grace period for mortgage and auto loan payments.

American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) is likely to be in the spotlight after announcing that it’s suspending most of its flights to the New York region from Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak.

American will operate just 13 daily flights to LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports through May 6, compared with 271 a year ago.

Zoom Video (NASDAQ:ZM) will also be in focus after Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) downgraded its recommendation on the video communications platform to underperform from neutral, saying it has the "best product at the right time" but is now expensive.

Additionally, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced it will soon be producing one million face-shields a week for medical workers.

Oil prices fell Monday as the OPEC+ group of major exporters delayed a scheduled meeting to Thursday.

The announcement of the meeting last week, to mediate a truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia in their price war, sent oil soaring last week.

The head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, said Russia and Saudi Arabia were "very, very close" to a deal, although President Trump's efforts to persuade U.S. companies to cut production came to nothing at the weekend. 

By 7:15 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 2.9% lower at $27.52 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 2.7% to $33.20.

Additionally, gold futures rose 1.4% to $1,668.30/oz, while EUR/USD traded at $1.0811, up 0.1%.

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