Stock futures opened slightly higher Monday evening after a mixed session earlier in the day, as more updates on the stimulus front out of Washington helped at least temporarily offset concerns over the potential for more virus-related restrictions.
Contracts on the S&P 500 ticked up by about 0.2%, after the index logged a fourth straight session of declines earlier.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to march higher across the U.S., and the country crossed the grim milestone of 300,000 total COVID-related deaths. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city should brace for a second full shutdown if the current rate of new cases and hospitalizations continues.
While the first batch of Pfizer’s (PFE) vaccine began getting distributed this week, Americans are still set to contend with the virus for at least the next several months as drugmakers produce and ship the inoculations across the country and the world. Goldman Sachs economists said in a note Monday they expect 50% of the U.S. population could likely be vaccinated in April.
Investors have been looking to congressional lawmakers to help bridge the gap and provide support until the pandemic abates. A bipartisan group of lawmakers released more details of their $908 billion proposal on Monday, splitting the package into two separate bills with the larger of the two encompassing items both Republicans and Democrats have agreed to back, and the smaller bill including more divisive items including liability protections and state and local government aid. Lawmakers have sought to attach the bill to the larger government spending bill for the fiscal year, which must be passed by Friday.
“I’m sure Congress will come up with something. I think on both sides of the aisle, the White House as well, they all have an interest in getting something out,” Opimas CEO Octavio Marenzi told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “Now, whether it’s really as big as one expected or whether it’s more symbolic, I don’t think that really matters that much. I think it’s more about psychology.”
“The more important thing is sort of keeping an eye on the Fed and what the Fed is doing, because I think that’s what’s really been driving markets over the past half-year, has really been a liquidity injection the Fed has been pushing in,” he added.
The Federal Open Market Committee is set to kick off its two-day meeting Tuesday, then release a monetary policy statement and hold a press conference with Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday. The Fed is also poised to release an updated Summary of Economic Projections at the conclusion of its meeting, after telegraphing in September that rates would likely remain at their current near-zero levels through at least 2023.
6:04 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open higher
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:04 p.m. ET Monday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,652.5, up 6 points or 0.16%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,925.00, up 60 points or 0.2%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,469.75, up 13.25 points or 0.11%
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