Stock futures traded higher Thursday evening as investors continued to mull chances of a virus-relief package amid mixed signals from officials as to what size of a proposal they might support.
The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq each closed at their highest levels in more than five weeks by the end of the trading day on Thursday. Each of the S&P 500’s 11 major sectors rose on the day, with the energy, utilities and real estate sectors outperforming.
All three major indices were on track to post weekly gains of at least 2.7%, assuming gains hold through Friday’s close.
Traders have closely monitored developments out of Washington to weigh whether a comprehensive or partial stimulus package might emerge before Election Day on Nov. 3, with additional relief measures viewed as a key tenet in encouraging the recovery in the virus-stricken economy. The Department of Labor’s weekly report on new jobless claims Thursday morning showed a worse than expected 840,000 individuals filed for first-time unemployment insurance benefits last week, though continuing claims dipped back below 11 million for the first time since late March.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed further stimulus in an about 40-minute conversation Thursday afternoon, Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill said in a Twitter post.
Hammill reported that Mnuchin “made clear the President’s interest in reaching” an agreement on a comprehensive package, after Pelosi said earlier in the day that she would not support a standalone proposal aimed at providing aid only to airlines. However, the White House has offered mixed signals as to whether it would in fact support a broader legislative package, with Trump and White House spokespeople offering conflicting takes on their willingness to back a more comprehensive proposal over the past couple days.
“A compromise on a big stimulus package in Washington could potentially deliver another October surprise, but the odds are against it as Election Day approaches,” Jeffrey Buchbinder, LPL Financial Equity Strategist, said in a note. “The optics of getting nothing done aren’t great on either side, and there are a lot of close Senate races right now, suggesting there still may be a glimmer of hope for a deal by November 3.”
6:04 p.m. ET Thursday: Stocks open higher as investors eye stimulus
Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 6:04 p.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,450.00, up 12.5 points or 0.36%
Dow futures (YM=F): 28,422.00, up 112 points or 0.4%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,573.25, up 34.25 points or 0.3%