Stock market news live updates: Stock futures drift with stimulus progress still elusive

Stock futures drifted sideways Thursday evening as traders watched Washington lawmakers hold at an impasse over advancing another round of virus-relief measures.

The three major indices ended Thursday’s regular trading day mixed, and the S&P 500 posted back-to-back declines. Shares of Airbnb (ABNB) hugged the flat line in late trading after closing 113% above their IPO price on their first day on the public markets Thursday, giving the company a valuation of more than $100 billion. And shares of Dow-component Disney (DIS) jumped to an all-time high during overnight trading after the company disclosed its Disney+ subscribers rose to 86.8 million.

Prospects for a near-term stimulus bill dimmed further on Thursday. Some Senate Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have balked at the $908 billion proposal a bipartisan group of lawmakers put forth last week, with disagreements over liability protections for businesses and the scope of state and local aid remaining key sticking points. Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, have also pushed back against the White House’s $916 billion plan, which differs from the $908 billion plan in part by excluding $300 in weekly augmented unemployment benefits.

A larger-than-expected rise in new jobless claims last week, with claims jumping by the most since September, underscored the strain to the labor market in absence of more relief. Millions of Americans could be left without jobless benefits early next year without another stimulus bill, since federal unemployment programs authorized under Congress’s CARES Act in the spring are set to expire at the end of this month. More than 13 million Americans are still collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Labor Department data showed.

Still, stocks have held up relatively strongly despite the near-term challenges, as investors anticipate next year’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and an eventual infusion of fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500 hovered only about 0.9% from its all-time closing high as of Thursday’s close.

“I’m pretty bullish on the second half of next year, but the trouble is we have to get there,” Robert Dye, Comerica Bank Chief Economist, told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “As we all know, we’re facing a lot of near-term risks. But I think when we get into the second half of next year, we get the vaccine behind us, we’ve got a lot of consumer optimism, business optimism coming up and a huge amount of pent-up demand to spend out with very low interest rates. And I think that’s going to be a very positive combination.”

6:04 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures hug the flat line

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:04 p.m. ET Thursday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,667.75, down 0.75 points or 0.02%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,039.00, up 29 points or 0.1%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,386.5, down 15.5 points or 0.12%

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