U.S. Futures Largely Flat; Market on Stimulus Watch By

© Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – U.S. stocks are seen opening largely unchanged Friday, stalling near record highs as investors look to Washington for fresh news about a Covid relief package.

At 7:05 AM ET (1205 GMT), the contract was up 24 points, or 0.1%, traded 5 points, or 0.1%, higher, and climbed 3 points, or 0.03%. 

The and the cash index are on course for their third positive week in four and the its fourth weekly gain in five, with all three indices closing Thursday at record highs.

U.S. lawmakers are running short of time to pass not only a pandemic rescue package but also a comprehensive spending bill to fund the government before federal funding runs out at the end of Friday.

Both major parties have cited progress, but there are still sticking points holding up an agreement over a potential $900 billion economic rescue package, meaning talks look likely to stretch into the weekend.

“It appears risk sentiment can still benefit from stimulus news, although there is a risk of a partial government shutdown over the weekend possibly pouring some cold water on the otherwise upbeat mood,” said analysts at ING, in a research note.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s figure showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment assistance jumped to a three-month high last week, while the surge in Covid-19 cases is resulting in more business shutdowns across the nation.

A FDA advisory panel voted Thursday to recommend Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. This could result in the drug being given the approval as soon as today, quickly joining the initial 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that began shipping around the country on Sunday.

In the corporate sector, quarterly earnings are expected from Darden Restaurants (NYSE:), owner of the Olive Garden chain and others, and motorhome manufacturer Winnebago (NYSE:) before the open, and footwear manufacturer Nike (NYSE:) after the close. 

The economic data slate is relatively light Friday, with the third-quarter balance data the main release.

Oil prices slipped, retreating from the nine-month highs seen the previous session as traders waited for Congress to approve a new Covid-19 relief package. The oil rig count is also due later Friday.

futures traded 0.1% lower at $48.33 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract fell 0.2% to $51.40. Both benchmarks hit their highest levels since early March on Thursday.

Elsewhere, rose 0.1% to $1,892.60/oz, while traded 0.1% lower at 1.2260.


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