5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday

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1. Wall Street heads for first monthly decline since March

A man walks near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 31, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures were pointing to losses at Friday’s open after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq squeaked out gains in Thursday’s volatile session.

This week’s sharp declines added to the already rough month. With four trading days left in September, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were tracking for their first monthly losses since March, a month in which all three benchmarks hit their coronavirus lows.

In fact, the Nasdaq as of Thursday’s close was firmly in a correction, as defined by a drop of more than 10% below recent highs. That high came on Sept. 2, before the tech-led sell-off. The S&P 500 and Dow were over 9% below their respective record highs on Sept. 2 and Feb. 12.

The end of September also brings an end to the third quarter, which actually stands to return healthy gains on Wall Street.

On Friday’s economic calendar, the government is out with August durable goods data at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect a 1.8% advance for last month after jumping a robust 11.4% in July.

2. House Democrats ready smaller coronavirus relief bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Sept. 10, 2020.

Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

House Democrats are preparing a new, smaller coronavirus relief package expected to cost about $2.4 trillion, a person familiar with the plans said.

The bill would include a federal unemployment benefits boost, direct payments to Americans, small-business loan funding and aid to airlines, the person said Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly pushed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to boost the administration’s roughly $1.3 trillion offer by $1 trillion.

3. Trump campaigns in swing state North Carolina and Florida

U.S. President Donald Trump displays an executive order he signed at a campaign event on healthcare at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 24, 2020.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Donald Trump, campaigning in battleground states North Carolina and Florida on Thursday, said the nation’s economic prosperity depends on the election. Trump did not mention at either event anything about his incendiary refusals this week to accept a peaceful transfer of power if he were to lose the election.

In Florida, Trump told a largely maskless crowd, “If you want to save America, you must get out and vote.” The president has been saying without evidence that mail-in voting is prone to fraud. Earlier in the day in North Carolina, he said he signed an executive order to protect people with preexisting conditions from insurance discrimination, a right already afforded under Obamacare, which he wants to overturn.

4. New developments in Covid-19 vaccine race

Dr. Nita Patel, Director of Antibody discovery and Vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccine at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Total U.S. coronavirus cases neared 7 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Friday morning. Deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19 exceeded 200,000 earlier this week as global fatalities approached 1 million on almost 32.3 million infections.

Maryland-based Novavax started a late-stage trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in the U.K., in partnership with the British government’s Vaccines Taskforce. Shares of Novavax, already up nearly 2,500% in 2020, gained more than 6% in Friday’s premarket trading.

5. Judge says U.S. must delay or defend TikTok ban by Friday

Sheldon Cooper | LightRocket | Getty Images

A federal judge said the Trump administration must either delay a ban on U.S. app stores offering TikTok for download or file legal papers defending the decision by Friday.

The ban, set to take effect Sunday, is the latest twist in a saga that began when Trump signed an executive order last month that Beijing-based ByteDance sell or spin off TikTok’s U.S. operations or face a ban because of national security concerns.

An offer submitted by Oracle and Walmart to take minority stakes in a newly created U.S. company TikTok Global has been mired in confusion and remains stalled.

— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC’s live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.

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