Stock futures ticked higher Thursday evening after the three major averages slid earlier in the day, as a record jump in COVID-19 cases, renewed stimulus concerns and tempered vaccine hopes all came into play.
Contracts on the Dow added 40 points to steady in late trading, after the index dropped more than 300 points, or 1%, during the regular session. Still, the index remains on track to post a more than 2.5% gain for the week, if levels hold through Friday’s close.
In the U.S., the coronavirus situation worsened yet again as new cases soared to a one-day record of more than 150,000 on Wednesday alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg. The surging case counts have led a number of individual states and localities to impose new restrictions and curfew to try and rein in the spread. Chicago on Thursday issued a new 30-day advisory urging citizens to stay indoors and avoid large gatherings.
“The market is grappling right now with some short-term pressures versus some longer-term hopes,” Jack Manley, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “We got that really good news earlier this week on the vaccine, and that means that the light at the end of the tunnel that we always knew was kind of there, I think, has a little more of a firm position than it had prior to that announcement.”
“At the same time though, we do have this new case activity, we’re going through that third wave, it’s worse than the second one which was, in and of itself, worse than the first,” he added. “It may mean some unwinding of some of the reopening activity, it may hurt fourth-quarter growth a little bit. It may hurt fourth quarter profits a little bit. But at the end of the day, I still think the vaccine is the big news, it’s the big picture item, and while I think it may be tough over the next few months as we go through this next wave of the pandemic, I think investors should still be pretty optimistic about what the future holds.”
Hopes dimmed further that lawmakers in Washington might come up with a stimulus deal before the end of the year to help offset some of the expected additional economic strain from the pandemic. The Trump administration has reportedly offloaded its role in leading stimulus negotiations to Congress, leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to re-start discussions after an already months-long impasse.
Earnings results also flowed in after market close Thursday. Shares of Disney (DIS) rose 3.5% after the company reported a narrower loss than feared and a bigger jump in subscribers than expected for its one-year-old streaming service Disney+. And Cisco’s stock (CSCO) jumped more than 6.5% after hours on the heels of quarterly earnings and guidance that topped estimates, as corporate spending on networking equipment picked back up. Palantir (PLTR) shares ticked higher after the company topped sales expectations in its first-ever quarterly report as a public company, though net losses surged as compensation costs increased.
6:02 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures slightly higher
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:02 p.m. ET Wednesday evening:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,538.5, up 6 points or 0.17%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,043.00, up 51 points or 0.18%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,857.00, up 37 points or 0.31%