Thursday December 3rd


Stock futures are flat a day after S&P 500 notches another record

U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday following a record high for the S&P 500, as investors monitored progress on a stimulus deal as well as new economic data. Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose just 10 points. S&P 500 futures were flat, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.3%. Investors awaited initial claims data Thursday morning, which will offer a final reading on the job market before Friday’s major jobs report. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect 780,000 new jobless claims, roughly unchanged from the prior week. The move in futures came after a relatively quiet day on Wall Street as investors digested developments in Washington about a possible stimulus bill. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% on Wednesday to hit a second record closing high in a row. On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement calling on Republicans to work with them on another round of coronavirus relief funding, using a bipartisan proposal from Senate moderates as a starting point. “Democratic leaders appear to have yielded on their insistence on a multi-trillion dollar fiscal stimulus package, raising the odds that a deal can be reached before the end of the year,” Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’ chief U.S. economist, said in a note Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not endorse the $908 billion proposal after it was released on Tuesday, and the Kentucky Republican has repeatedly said he believes the next round of stimulus should be smaller at around $500 billion. Meanwhile, the coronavirus infections have accelerated in the U.S. where more than 100,000 patients are currently hospitalized, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project. That is significantly above the peak during the first wave in the spring, when cases were concentrated in the northeastern part of the country. On Wednesday, the U.K. became the first country to grant emergency approval to the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech. Regulators in the U.S. are expected to make determinations on that vaccine and a similar vaccine from Moderna later this month, possibly allowing distribution to begin before the start of 2021. Still, the rollout of the vaccine is expected to take many months as pharmaceutical companies ramp up production for the global population, with many health experts warning of a tough winter in the United States. On Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would require Chinese companies to adhere to U.S. auditing standards if they want their stocks to be to be listed on exchanges in the United States. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected sign it into law. Stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly edged higher on Thursday as investors reacted to the release of a private survey on China’s services sector activity in November. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 0.21% to about 3,442.14 while the Shenzhen component was slightly higher at around 13,970.68. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 0.74% to close at 26,728.50. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed at 26,809.37, above the flatline. The Topix index also ended its trading day slightly higher at 1,775.25. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.76% to close at 2,696.22. Oil prices fell on Thursday as producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia locked horns over the need to extend record production cuts set in place in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Brent crude was down 15 cents, or 0.3%, at $48.10 a barrel by 0155 GMT, after gaining 1.8% on Wednesday. U.S. oil was down 17 cents, or 0.4%, at $45.11 a barrel, having ended 1.6% higher the previous session. Gold prices extended gains on Thursday as the dollar fell to a 2-1/2 year low while investors grew optimistic of an eventual breakthrough in negotiations over a fresh U.S. coronavirus aid package. Spot gold rose 0.6% to $1,841.30 per ounce, having earlier hit its highest since Nov. 23 at $1,843.11. U.S. gold futures were up 0.8% to $1,844.50.