Futures slip on rising virus cases; eyes on stimulus

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Monday as concerns about a jump in COVID-19 cases kept risk appetite in check, with investors also looking for signs of more stimulus to shore up a battered global economy.

After the U.S. government’s $3 trillion commitment to the crisis 12 weeks ago, record levels of new infections have forced many states to backpedal their reopening plans just as those support programs are due to expire.

Furthermore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that cases and deaths could rise this autumn and winter.

The Congress is set to debate a new aid package this week.

Signs of progress on a potential coronavirus vaccine, improving economic data and a relatively upbeat start to the second-quarter earnings season helped the S&P 500 and the Dow rise for three consecutive weeks.

The benchmark S&P 500 is now less than 5% down from its Feb. 19 record close.

This week, major companies including Microsoft Corp (O:MSFT), Amazon.com Inc (O:AMZN), Tesla Inc (O:TSLA), Intel Corp (O:INTC) and Honeywell International Inc (N:HON) are expected to report quarterly results.

After leading the U.S. stocks’ rally since late March, the tech-heavy Nasdaq eased slightly last week as investors turned toward cyclical sectors on prospects of a faster-than expected recovery.

At 6:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were down 60 points, or 0.23%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 9 points, or 0.28% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3 points, or 0.03%.

Noble Energy Inc’s (O:NBL) shares jumped 10.5% premarket as Chevron Corp (N:CVX) agreed to buy the Houston-based oil and gas producer for $5 billion in an all-stock deal. Chevron rose 0.2%.

Pfizer Inc (N:PFE) rose 2.8%, after Britain signed deals to secure 90 million doses of two possible COVID-19 vaccines from an alliance of the U.S. drugmaker, Germany-based BioNTech (F:22UAy) and French group Valneva (PA:VLS).

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