Dow Futures Higher As Markets Remain Focused on Vaccine Rollout, Stimulus Talks

The Tuesday Market Minute

  • Global stocks mixed as Christmas lockdown orders, as well as accelerating COVID infections, put a cautious edge on vaccine rollout and stimulus hopes.
  • U.S. lawmakers continue to haggle over a coronavirus spending bill ahead of a Friday deadline to fund federal agencies.
  • The Federal Reserve begins its two-day meeting with investors anticipating a focus on renewed bond purchases to maintain support for financial markets.
  • U.S. coronavirus cases rising at more than 300,000 per day as the vaccine rollout continues apace; hospitalizations at all-time high of 109,000.
  • U.S. equity futures point to a firmer open on Wall Street ahead of the Empire State manufacturing index at 8:30 am Eastern time and industrial production data at 9:15 am Eastern time.

Wall Street futures bumped higher Tuesday, while the dollar remained under pressure in foreign exchange markets, as markets remained focused on the consistent themes of accelerating coronavirus cases and hopes of near-term stimulus from Washington.

U.S. coronavirus cases are now rising at more than 300,000 per day, with hospitalizations rising to a record high 109,000 and the seven-day average of fatalities holding at around 2,400, placing it as far and away the deadliest country in the world in terms of the pandemic.

Yet even with weekly jobless claims rising, unemployment support set to expire on December 26 and officials in the nation’s largest cities, including New York, mulling tighter lockdown restrictions heading into the Christmas holiday, lawmakers continue to haggle over the details of a coronavirus relief bill that many investors see as absolutely essential for the economy to bridge the gap between now and the broader rollout of the Pfizer  (PFE) – Get Report/BioNTech  (BNTX) – Get Report vaccine.

The Federal Reserve, which has also played a crucial role in supporting financial markets through the worst of the pandemic, kicks-off its two-day meeting in Washington this morning with investors anticipating a tighter focus on the central bank’s bond buying program, which could be increased as a stop-gap measure to the recalcitrant Congress.

All that said, stock futures are looking solid this morning, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a 175 point opening bell gain and those linked to the S&P 500 priced for a 22 point bump to the upside. Nasdaq futures are indicating a gain of around 60 points.

European stocks were also firmer, even as the region’s biggest states mulled Christmas lockdowns and health officials in London warned of a potential new variant of the COIVD-19 virus. 

The Stoxx 600 was marked 0.13% higher, led by a 0.7% gain for the DAX performance index in Germany, while London FTSE 100 edged 0.14% into the green in the opening hours of trading.

The U.S. dollar index slumped further against a basket of six global currencies as traders continue to anticipate more government borrowing in order to fund any coronavirus relief bill, with the dollar index trading at an April 2018 low of 90.419 in overnight dealing.

Global oil prices used the weaker dollar to hold onto gains heading into their seven-week really, with Brent crude trading just north of $50 per barrel and WTI crude futures holding at $47.05 per barrel.

Overnight in Asia, last night’s afternoon sell-off on Wall Street held down gains for regional stocks, with the MSCI ex-Japan index falling 0.4% and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo edging 0.17% lower to 26,687.84 points.