January on pace to become the deadliest month of the U.S. pandemic

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Dow opens higher as investors await stimulus package proposal

U.S. stocks opened higher as traders look forward to a potential economic stimulus package and more good vaccine news, reports CNBC’s Fred Imbert.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 100 points, or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.2%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.3%.

—Melodie Warner

January is on track to match or pass December as the deadliest month of the U.S. pandemic

About halfway through the month, January is on pace to match or pass December as the deadliest month of the U.S. Covid pandemic, according to CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The U.S. recorded 77,438 total virus deaths in December, far outpacing even the early days of the pandemic when deaths skyrocketed. As of Jan. 13, the country has already recorded half that monthly death toll, with 38,787 reported fatalities so far.

With daily deaths at pandemic highs this week, and for the most part trending upward, it’s likely January will surpass December to become the deadliest month for the U.S.

—Sara Salinas, Nate Rattner

Delta posts biggest annual loss but sees turnaround thanks to vaccines

Delta Air Lines kicked off U.S. airline earnings, reporting it lost a record $12.39 billion last year as it trudged through the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus and accompanying travel restrictions, quarantine restrictions and shuttered attractions drove down air travel demand.

But the Atlanta-based airline halved its cash burn in the fourth quarter to an average of $12 million a day from the third quarter and narrowed its net loss to $755 million.

CEO Ed Bastian expects a difficult few months to start the year but expects demand to recover as vaccines are more widely distributed.

“While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation,” Bastian said.

Leslie Josephs

Jobless claims surge to highest weekly level since August

Initial jobless claims surged last week to the highest level since August, as Covid outbreaks take hold in mid-winter.

First-time claims jumped to 965,000 for the week, far worse than the 800,000 Wall Street expected and well above the 784,000 claims filed in the previous period, CNBC’s Jeff Cox reports.

Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all surged to record levels in recent weeks, leading to stricter virus lockdowns and reduced economic activity.

—Sara Salinas

India will roll out a massive Covid-19 vaccination drive this weekend

Bangalore Airport workers transfer carton boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India in Bangalore, India, Jan. 12, 2021.

Stringer | Xinhua | Getty Images

India is getting ready to begin one of the world’s largest mass vaccination exercises starting Saturday.

New Delhi aims to inoculate some 300 million people in the first phase — about 30 million health-care and frontline workers followed by those above 50 years of age and other people who are at high risk.

So far India’s regulator has approved the restricted use of two coronavirus vaccines in emergency situations.

One of them is developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is being manufactured domestically by the Serum Institute of India and is known locally as Covishield.

The other, called Covaxin, was developed domestically by India’s Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research. It was granted emergency use authorization as clinical trials continue.

— Saheli Roy Choudhury

WHO investigators arrive in China; country reports first death in months

Residents undergo Covid-19 coronavirus tests at the basement of a residential compound as part of a mass testing program following new cases of the virus emerging in Shijiazhuang, in northern China’s Hebei province on Jan. 12, 2021.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

China recorded its first death in the latest resurgence of coronavirus cases in the province of Hebei, which surrounds the capital city of Beijing.

A woman in Hebei died Wednesday afternoon, state media reported, noting hers was a severe case and she had pre-existing health conditions.

Separately, a team from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan Thursday to investigate the origins of the virus alongside Chinese scientists, according to state media. The city was the epicenter at the start of the pandemic and reported the first death from Covid-19 on Jan. 11, 2020.

Evelyn Cheng

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