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Stocks poised to open lower as death toll from virus tops 4,000

U.S. stocks were poised to open sharply lower Wednesday as rising numbers of coronavirus cases from the pandemic dampened the outlook for the global economy.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrial averages dropped 700 points, a day after the blue-chip index posted its worst first quarter ever. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures sank 3%.

The losses come after President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. 

The U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 4,000 early Wednesday. Worldwide, there are more than 42,000 deaths and 860,000 confirmed cases. The U.S., which has now surpassed China’s official death toll, is closing in on 200,000 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

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Traders say lingering uncertainty over how long the shutdown may last has made forecasting U.S. growth difficult in the near term. On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs economists projected the U.S. economy would contract 34% in the second quarter, but they expect economic activity to rebound in the third quarter.

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