U.S. stock-indexes on Thursday were likely to open mixed, with investors facing a parade of Federal Reserve speakers, headlined by Chairman Jerome Powell. A resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic though is also drawing the attention of investors, providing cause for caution.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 221 points, or 0.8%, at 29,090; those for the S&P 500 index declined 11.60 points to reach 3,556.50, a drop of 0.3%; while Nasdaq-100 futures gained 40.25 points, or less than 0.3%, at 11,926.25.
On Wednesday, the Dow ended lower by 23.29 points, or 0.1%, at 29,339.54, snapping a 2-day win streak. The S&P 500 index advanced 27.17 points to close at 3,572.72, notching a gain of 0.8%, its second-highest close ever. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 232.57 points, or 2%, to finish at 11,786.43, snapping its 2-day losing streak.
Hopes for a vaccine against the coronavirus is being pit against the near-term reality of a significant rise in cases and hospitalizations in parts of the U.S. which has triggered the reimplementation of fresh social-distancing measures that could endanger a tepid economic rebound.
Indiana saw a single-day rise of more than 5,000 cases for the first time, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. Other states recorded all-time highs, including Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico and West Virginia. In the past week, the U.S. has averaged 128,081 cases a day, up 69% from the average two weeks ago and cases are rising in 49 states and territories
The resurgence of the pandemic has prompted a number of states to reimpose restrictions on consumer and business activity. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that bars and restaurants with state liquor licenses must close at 10 p.m., and said indoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people, as cases in the state reached the highest level since April, while the positive rate of infection approached a 3% threshold that would force schools to shut down.
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Against that backdrop, investors appear ready to revert to a trading strategy that has thus far worked this year: buy large-capitalization technology stocks that benefit from the stay-at-home trend.
The move to return to the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and Nasdaq-100 indexes comes despite positive vaccine news on Monday from partners Pfizer and BioNTech that indicated a Phase 3 study of an experimental remedy for COVID-19 had 90% efficacy, emboldening buying in stocks that have been beaten down during the worst of the pandemic. The week’s reversion to buying growth stocks may dash some hopes for a rotation into so-called value stocks.
Late Wednesday, Moderna Inc. said the first batch of data from its late-stage test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine was ready for analysis.
In economic reports, U.S. jobless benefit claims fell 48,000 to 709,000 in early November, and continuing jobless claims in states dropped 436,000 to 6.79 million.
Meanwhile, a measure of the annual rate of U.S. inflation, the consumer price index, rose 1.2% in October, down from 1.4% in the prior month. Core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy prices, also retreated, rising 1.6%, down from 1.7% in the prior period.
Comments from Powell also will be closely followed as the Fed Chairman speaks on a panel with other central bankers Thursday during an online forum.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note edged back to 0.936% on Thursday, from around 0.98% on Tuesday. The bond market was close in observance of Veterans Day on Wednesday. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Europe Index was trading 1% lower as was London’s FTSE 100
Oil futures were little-changed, with the U.S. benchmark edging up less than 0.1% at $41.46 a barrel. Gold prices were trading modestly higher, with the December contract gaining 0.4%, or $7.60, at $1,869.20 an ounce.
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was off less than 0.1% at 92.995.
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