Dow futures rise Friday as investors await retail sales, pin hopes to coronavirus remedies


U.S. stock-index futures on Friday were showing modest gains to end a bumpy week of trade and snap a three-day losing streak as investors digested corporate earnings, economic reports and developments tied to the spread of COVID-19.

Some positive momentum in equities on Friday were being attributed to news of the possibility of a Pfizer vaccine by next month, even as the spread of the viral outbreak has forced some re-closures in major European metropolises

How are stock benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
YM00,
+0.27%

YMZ20,
+0.27%
were 83 points, or 0.3%, higher at 28,470; those for the S&P 500 index
ESZ20,
+0.25%

ES00,
+0.25%
were trading 10.35 points to reach 3,485.75, a gain of 0.3%; while Nasdaq-100 futures
NQZ20,
+0.41%

NQ00,
+0.41%
were climbing 62 points, or 0.5%, to reach 11,936.

On Thursday, the Dow
DJIA,
-0.06%
fell 19.80 points, or 0.1%, to 28,494.2, but well off its intraday nadir of 28,181.54; the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-0.15%
finished down 5.33 points to end at 3,483.34, a drop of 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-0.46%
slumped by 0.5%, a fall of 54.86 points to 11,713.8.

For the week, the Dow is on track for a 0.3% weekly decline, the S&P 500 is set to rise 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite was on pace to post a 1.2% gain, as of Thursday’s close.

What’s driving the market?

Pfizer Inc.’s
PFE,
-0.84%
announcement that it could have a late-stage experimental coronavirus vaccine ready for emergency-use authorization by late November—if it proves successful in trials—may be providing some lift to markets that have been dogged this week by reports of the spread of the viral pandemic.

More than half-a-dozen states, including Ohio and Michigan, reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases Thursday, pushing the U.S.’s single-day total above 60,000 for the first time in over two months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Read: Coronavirus tally: Global cases of COVID-19 38.9 million, 1.09 million deaths and U.S. nears 8 million cases

Equity indexes in the U.S. are attempting to avoid a third straight decline as investors contend with spiking cases of the deadly disease that has infected nearly 40 million people globally, as well as concerns about a lack of additional coronavirus relief aid to help the economy navigate the public-health crisis.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she wouldn’t wait until the end of the year to strike an agreement on fiscal stimulus for out-of-work Americans and troubled businesses, which may have provided some modest grist for bulls in the waning hours of the session’s trade.

White House and Democratic negotiators also agreed Thursday to include a national coronavirus-testing strategy in relief legislation.

Still, Senate approval for any large-scale stimulus seems unlikely, even as President Donald Trump pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “go higher“ and push forward a more expansive package than the White House’s current $1.8 trillion offer.

Market participants were also assessing dueling townhalls meetings held Thursday evening by President Donald Trump in Florida and Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden in Philadelphia, where the presidential contenders for the next four years discussed coronavirus and their tax plans among other issues.

Looking ahead, investors are awaiting the latest data on U.S. retail sales, due to be published at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, which could be an important pivot point for the market.

In other economic reports, a reading of industrial production will be released at 9:15 a.m. and business inventories will be released along with a preliminary reading of consumer sentiment for October from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index at 10 a.m.

Which stocks are in focus?

  • Shares of Boeing Co.
    BA,
    +0.61%
    were in focus after the European Union’s aviation regulator said the 737 Max is safe enough to fly again in Europe by the end of 2020, Bloomberg News reported.

  • Shares of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. 
    HTZ,
    -1.90%
     soared in premarket trading Friday, after the bankrupt rental car company said it secured $1.65 billion in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing.

  • Shares of Schlumberger Ltd
    SLB,
    +2.94%
    dropped in premarket trading Friday, after the oil services company reported a third-quarter adjusted profit that topped expectations but revenue that fell more than forecast, hurt by a miss by its drilling business.

  • First Citizens BancShares Inc.
    FCNCA,
    +2.42%
    and CIT Group Inc.
    CIT,
    +3.18%
     said Friday they have agreed to an all-stock merger of equals that will create the 19th biggest bank in the U.S. by assets.

  • Aligos Therapeutics Inc.’s ALGS, initial public offering priced late Thursday at $15 a share, in the middle of the expected range of between $14 and $16 a share.



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