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China death toll at 1,665, confirmed cases hit 68,500

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A girl wearing a face mask plays on her scooter at a park in Beijing on February 15, 2020.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

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All times below are in Beijing time.

8.49 am: China death toll rises to 1,665, as total cases reach 68,500

China’s National Health Commission reported that there were 2,009 new confirmed cases and 142 additional deaths as of Feb. 15.

That brings the total number of cases in mainland China to 68,500, and the total deaths so far to 1,665, according the latest statistics from the commission released Sunday.

8.00 am: Hubei reports 139 additional deaths and 1,843 new cases

Hubei’s health authorities reported 1,843 new cases and 139 more deaths as of Feb. 15.

There are now 56,249 known cases of the respiratory virus in Hubei, which has killed 1,596 people in the province alone. Hubei is the center of the epidemic, and has accounted for most of the cases and deaths so far.

All times below are in Eastern time.

4.15 pm: Toyota will resume output at three auto plants in China

Toyota will resume production at three of its four primary auto plants in China on Monday. The company had initially planned to restart production on Feb.3, but was delayed because of the virus outbreak.

2.00 pm: Cruise ship confirms 67 new coronavirus cases as US evacuates citizens

The Diamond Princess cruise ship that is in quarantine in Japan confirmed 67 new cases of the virus on board. The ship was put under quarantine last week in Yokohama with about 3,700 people on board.

American passengers aboard the ship will be evacuated on Sunday with chartered aircraft, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. There are 400 U.S. citizens on board and at least 40 Americans who were infected have been taken off the ship for treatment. Those who are evacuated will undergo 14 days of quarantine once they reach the U.S.

1.30 pm: Xi started fighting virus earlier than previously known, newly published speech shows

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued internal orders regarding the virus outbreak roughly two weeks before his first public statements on the epidemic, according to a newly published speech on Saturday in the Qiushi Journal, the Communist Party’s top publication.

The speech indicates that Xi started giving orders about the outbreak as early as Jan. 7. His first public instructions on the epidemic was Jan. 20, in which he provided brief instructions on the virus.

China’s release of the speech is an apparent effort to mitigate public anger over the handling of the outbreak, and show that Xi has led the battle against the epidemic — including quarantining millions of people in Hubei, the province at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Xi gave the speech on Feb 3, about the time when the virus was becoming a national crisis.

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: WHO calls on world leaders to ‘stop stigma and hate’ surrounding coronavirus outbreak

— CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus, global economy, currencies in focus

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Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower at the open on Thursday as markets globally continue their rocky start to the second quarter.

The S&P/ASX 200 fell about 2.97% in early trade as almost all the sectors saw losses. The heavily-weighted financial subindex dropped about 4.9% as shares of the country’s major banks sold off.

Meanwhile, futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 17,920 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 17,600. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 18,065.41.

Markets in India are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

Concerns over the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has roiled markets in recent weeks, continue to weigh on investor sentiment. The rapid spread of the disease across the world has resulted in drastic measures by authorities such as widespread lockdowns that have left economies effectively frozen in many places globally.

So far, more than 932,000 people have been infected worldwide while at least 42,000 lives have been taken by the virus, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 973.65 points lower at 20,943.51 while the S&P 500 slid about 4.41% to end its trading day at 2,470.50. The Nasdaq Composite also shed 4.41% to close at about 7,360.58.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.673 after rising from levels below 99 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.25 per dollar following lows above 108 seen earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.608 after slipping from levels above $0.612 yesterday.

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Stock futures positive as market tries to rebound from second quarter’s rocky start

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U.S. stock futures rose in overnight trading and pointed to gains at the open on Thursday, as markets try to rebound after kicking off the second quarter in the red.

Dow futures rose 104 points, indicating a 41-point gain at the open on Thursday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were also set to open modestly higher.

Stocks posted steep losses on Wednesday to begin the second quarter, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc on global markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 4.4%, or 973.65 points, lower at 20,943.51. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also closed 4.4% lower, at 2,470.50 and 7,360.58, respectively. Stock losses accelerated minutes before the close, although the major averages did manage to end the session off the lows of the day. The Dow briefly fell more than 1,100 points.

The utilities, real estate and financials sectors dragged the S&P 500 lower, while Boeing and American Express were the Dow’s biggest underperformers, falling 12% and 9%, respectively.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he is closing all New York City playgrounds, and said that the state’s model projects a high death rate through July. He also said cases in New York state now total more than 83,000.

His comments came after President Donald Trump said Tuesday evening that the U.S. should prepare for a “very, very painful two weeks.” White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 virus deaths in the U.S.

The coronavirus outbreak, which sent global markets tumbling in the first quarter, continues to act as a headwind for the market as investors grapple with the ongoing uncertainty around how long the economy will be closed.

“While April will be an extremely volatile month in terms of both the news flow and stock market reactions, I do think many are anticipating this,” Bleakley Advisory Group chief investment officer Peter Boockvar said Wednesday. “What is not priced in I believe because it’s obviously hugely unknown is what is on the other end come May. How contained will this virus spread be by then? To what extent will things begin to reopen, if at all?” 

On Tuesday, the Dow and S&P 500 closed out their worst first-quarter performances of all time. The Dow fell more than 23% in the first quarter; that was also its biggest quarterly fall since 1987. The S&P 500 fell 20% in the first quarter, its biggest quarterly loss since 2008.

“While we have not seen announcements yet, dividend cuts could be on the horizon for U.S. companies,” said New York Life Investments multi-asset portfolio strategist Lauren Goodwin.

“With a heavy hit to revenues, businesses may opt to prioritize employees and lower borrowing loads over paying dividends. This could present a risk for equities. Announcements of temporary (1-2 quarters) of dividend cuts could be priced in, but longer cuts would likely contribute to negative sentiment,” she added.

Amid the market rout, Congress passed a massive $2 trillion stimulus package in an effort to halt the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. Already, there are calls for even more stimulus.

Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren said Wednesday that Congress likely will have to deliver more stimulus to help those at the lower end of the economic spectrum and to boost small business.

Unemployment is likely to “rise pretty dramatically over the next couple of months” and the economic damage won’t abate until the coronavirus is brought under control, he said. “I don’t think we’ll turn a corner until people feel comfortable taking mass transit again,” he said.

– CNBC’s Jeffrey Cox and Nate Rattner contributed reporting.

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Trump says he doesn’t know if China underreported numbers

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the daily White House coronavirus press briefing while flanked by Attorney General William Barr April 1, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. doesn’t know whether the Chinese government has underreported the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country.

“I’m not an accountant from China,” Trump said when asked at a White House press briefing whether China’s numbers are accurate.

Still, Trump said that Beijing’s tally appeared “to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported.”

The president’s remarks came hours after a news report said the president did receive a secret intelligence brief noting that China deliberately underreported the extent of its COVID-19 outbreak.

Bloomberg, citing three U.S. officials, reported that the intelligence community made that assessment in a classified report that the White House received last week.

Trump said that “we have not received” any intelligence reports showing that China underreported its coronavirus numbers.

The president has previously cast doubt on China’s numbers. But at the briefing Wednesday evening, he opted instead to talk up America’s trade relationship with Beijing, boasting that China will be buying billions of dollars’ worth of products from U.S. farmers.

“We really don’t know. How do we know whether they underreported or reported however they report,” Trump said of China’s reported coronavirus numbers.

“But we had a great call the other night. We are working together on a lot of different things including trade. They’re buying a lot, they’re spending a lot of money. They’re giving it to our farmers.”

The coronavirus pandemic began around the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province – though Beijing’s foreign ministry has claimed that it didn’t necessarily originate there.

China has reported 82,361 coronavirus cases, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. That number is less than half of the total cases confirmed in the U.S., which has become the country with the highest number of reported infections in the world.

Trump said at the briefing that “the biggest communication is myself and President Xi” Jinping, and “the relationship’s very good.”

“We have a great trade deal” with China, Trump continued. “We’d like to keep it. They’d like to keep it. And the relationship is good.”

“As to whether or not their numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China,” Trump said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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