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5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday

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1. Dow set to rise after closing above 34,000 for first time ever

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange on April 15, 2021 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

2. Homebuilding in March is expected to have been strong

Contractors install floor beams on the foundation of a house under construction in Lehi, Utah, Dec. 16, 2020.

George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Blowout March retail sales Thursday helped lift stocks — and Friday, investors get a look at the red-hot residential real estate market at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Commerce Department is set to issue March numbers on housing starts and building permits. New construction is expected to surge 14% after February’s 10.3% drop. Permits are seen rising 4% after a 10.8% decline in February. Homebuilders have recently been increasing production, and new government Covid stimulus could add to that trend.

3. Chinese economy grew 18.3% in Q1 in Covid bounce back

China reported first-quarter gross domestic product a touch below expectations as industrial production disappointed but retail sales beat estimates. GDP soared 18.3% in the first three months of the year from a year earlier, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. In the first quarter last year, the economy shrank by 6.8% — during the height of the domestic Covid outbreak.

4. WHO chief: Covid case rate approaching highest level yet

A physiotherapist adjusts an oxygen mask on a patient with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease at the ICU of Parelheiros Municipal Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil April 8, 2021.

Amanda Perobelli | Reuters

The World Health Organization chief said Friday that an alarming trend of rising Covid cases has resulted in infections around the world now approaching their highest level ever. In the U.S., cases per week are well off their all-time highs but consistent with levels seen during the summer surge. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will likely need a booster dose of a Covid vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. Bourla said it’s possible that yearly vaccinations against the coronavirus will also be necessary.

5. Gunman fatality shoots at least 8 people at Indianapolis FedEx facility, kills himself

Sergio Flores | Reuters

At least eight people died after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis late Thursday and then killed himself, city police said. FedEx said in a statement: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members. … We are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.” Last week, President Joe Biden announced a series of executive actions aimed at tackling what he called a national epidemic of gun violence. In March alone, 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colorado.

— NBC News contributed to this report. Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC’s coronavirus blog.

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