Stock futures opened flat to slightly lower on Thursday, pausing after increasing earlier in the day.
The three major indices ended the regular session at record closing highs, even as lawmakers remained locked in discussions over another coronavirus relief package and legislation to fund the government for the fiscal year.
New economic data out Thursday underscored weakening trends in the labor market as new jobless claims unexpectedly rose to the highest level since early September, giving investors reason to believe the grim data will compel lawmakers to advance a stimulus bill more expediently.
But with the clock ticking for lawmakers, however, the possibility of a no-deal scenario this week is still on the table. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) suggested Thursday that the government could go into a partial shutdown over the weekend as lawmakers work to hash out details of both the government spending bill and the virus-relief package expected to be attached to it, according to Bloomberg.
Analysts still largely believe a stimulus deal will get passed in the relative near-term, however. But the stock markets’ recent run-up in anticipation of more stimulus, as well as amid optimism over a vaccine-enabled economic reopening, has begun to give some strategist pause.
“Sentiment is getting off the charts,” LPL Financial’s Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick, who has a 3,900 price target on the S&P 500 for 2021, told Yahoo Finance. “We’re bullish too … but that contrarian in me thinks maybe we finally get a sell-the-news type of mentality.”
“We’re not so lonely being bullish here, so maybe a well-deserved break sometime, probably early next year would be perfectly normal and honestly healthy,” he said.
Meanwhile, more progress was made on the vaccine front Thursday, with the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voting to recommend that Moderna’s (MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine be authorized for emergency use. This would make the inoculation the second to be granted authorization in the U.S., after the FDA granted Pfizer’s vaccine emergency authorization last week. Shares of Moderna declined in overnight trading following the announcement, which had been highly anticipated heading into this week’s FDA panel meetings.
Elsewhere, shares of FedEx (FDX) sank in late trading after the company reported higher costs in its latest quarterly results, as package demand surged to records during the pandemic and onset of the holiday delivery season. Shares of UPS (UPS) fell in sympathy.
On Friday, Dow-component Nike (NKE) is set to report quarterly results after market close, following a market-outperforming rally of 39% for the year-to-date.
6:02 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures begin the overnight session slightly lower
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:02 p.m. ET Thursday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,721.00, down 0.25 points or 0.01%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,284.00, down 9 points or 0.03%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,745.00, down 6 points or 0.05%
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