Stocks – US Futures Point Higher; Tech Sector Eyed

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By Peter Nurse – U.S. stocks are set to open higher Friday, rebounding after Thursday’s minor selloff, as sentiment remains generally positive despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China. Attention will likely be on the influential tech sector after strong earnings from Nvidia and a major court ruling.

At 7:00 AM ET (1200 GMT), futures for the traded 6 points, or 0.2%, higher, futures for the up 29 points, or 3%, while the futures contract rose 32 points, or 0.1%.

A federal judge agreed late Thursday to temporarily block Microsoft (NASDAQ:) from beginning work on the Pentagon’s multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract.

This granted Amazon (NASDAQ:) an early victory after it alleged that U.S. President Donald Trump exercised undue influence over the Defense Department as it weighed competing bids from Microsoft (NASDAQ:) and Amazon for the project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI.

The closed 0.2% lower Thursday, slipped 0.1% and the lost 0.4%, weighed by a sharp jump in coronavirus cases. This broke a run of three straight record closing highs.

However, Beijing reported Friday a smaller daily increase in Covid-19 virus cases in Hubei than for the previous day, though still bigger than before the counting methodology was changed. All that said, doubts remain over the accuracy of these figures, with the White House calling on Beijing to be more transparent over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Elsewhere, shares in Expedia (NASDAQ:) jumped over 10% after hours after the online travel services firm posted better than expected fourth-quarter profits and ambitious cost cutting plans.

Shares in Roku (NASDAQ:) climbed over 6% after hours after the maker of streaming-media devices expects revenue to increase 42% in 2020 after posting 52% growth last year. Also, shares in NVIDIA (NASDAQ:) rose over 5% after hours after first-quarter revenue topped expectations even as it projected a $100 million hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

Turning to economic data releases, January are expected to have risen 0.3%, the same as in December, at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT).

The University of Michigan issues its preliminary gauge of the consumer’s wellbeing for February, at 10:00 AM ET. The is seen coming in at 99.5 in this first monthly measure, down slightly from 99.8 in January.

Elsewhere, the oil market edged higher Friday, with many market players expecting Russia to finally agree to OPEC’s plans for more cuts to production after the International Energy Agency laid bare the extent of the hit to global oil demand this quarter on the back of the coronavirus.

There will be a little more fundamental data to trade on when Baker Hughes issues its oil rig count at 1:00 PM ET (18:00 GMT). Last week the rig count came in at 676.

AT 07:00 AM ET (1200 GMT), futures traded 1.4% lower at $52.12 a barrel. The international benchmark contract rose 1.4% to $57.15.

Additionally, rose 0.1% to $1,579.15/oz, while traded at $1.0836, just above the $1.0828 overnight low, which marked its lowest level since 2017.

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