Stock futures posted a muted open Tuesday evening at the start of the overnight session, as investors weighed the still-dire pandemic situation against the arrival of more stimulus.
The three major indices ended the regular trading day mixed, with the S&P 500 and Dow lower while the Nasdaq climbed to a fresh record high. The moves came despite the long-awaited passage of a coronavirus relief package out of Congress at the beginning of the week, though this latest infusion of stimulus had been largely anticipated by investors.
With another stimulus package passed, investors returned their attention to the lingering threat of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said Tuesday that a recent coronavirus mutation identified in the UK could possibly have begun to spread in the U.S. undetected, though a number of new travel restrictions have recently been put in place on Britain. But much remains unknown about the new strain’s virulence and resistance – or lack thereof – to existing COVID-19 vaccines.
States continue to grapple with surges in the virus, with both New Jersey and Arizona’s deaths reaching multi-month highs. While the vaccine distribution rolls on, businesses and individuals are contending with the present fall-out from the virus’s spread. The Labor Department is set to release its weekly jobless claims report Wednesday morning, which is expected to show another 880,000 individuals filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, holding steady at the previous week’s elevated level.
A bevy of other economic data reports on durable goods orders, inflation, and personal income and spending are also due out for release Wednesday morning. No government economic data will be released Thursday or Friday in observance of Christmas and Christmas Eve.
And as the year winds down, investors are beginning to turn their attention to 2021. In the very near-term, traders will be closely eyeing the Georgia Senate runoffs at the beginning of January, given that many believe markets have already priced in a divided government outcome, which could be upended in the event that Democratic lawmakers take control of the chamber.
Further out over the course of 2021, many strategists believe the reopening trade, and broadening equity market participation among shares of companies hardest hit by the pandemic, will be a key theme.
“2020 was historically a pretty narrow market. By that I mean very few sectors, and even stocks, performed quite well. And then there was the ‘have-nots’ who really lagged the market,” Matt Peron, director of Janus Henderson Investors, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. “So we think that coming into 2021, given the recovery that we expect, you should expect to see that broaden out, and we will see more participation from the broader market.”
6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open flat
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,676.25, down 1 point or 0.03%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,918.00, up 6 points or 0.02%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,710.75, up 0.75 points or 0.01%
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