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Futures rise on hopes of vaccine-fueled recovery

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday as investors focused on prospects of a gradual vaccine-led economic recovery next year and more monetary and fiscal support.

FILE PHOTO: A Christmas tree is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Lifting sentiment was Britain’s approval of the emergency use of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine after the main U.S. indexes slipped from intraday record highs on Tuesday on uncertainty over bigger stimulus checks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a quick vote to back President Donald Trump’s call to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000 from $600 on Tuesday.

“The market is of the view that U.S. households will receive additional support a few months down the line even if the government decides to pull back higher stimulus checks,” said Piotr Matys, FX strategist at Rabobank.

At 07:04 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 91 points, or 0.3%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 13.25 points, or 0.36%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 49 points, or 0.38%.

Meanwhile, the first known U.S. case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant discovered in Britain was detected in Colorado. Scientists believe the new variant is more contagious than previously identified strains of the SAR-CoV-2 variant but no more severe in the symptoms it causes.

To date, the pandemic has infected more than 19 million people and killed over 334,000 in the United States.

Trading is expected to remain light in the holiday-shortened week, which could boost volatility in the market.

The benchmark S&P 500 index, which has bounced back nearly 70% from its late-March trough, is on course to end the month with a 3% gain after a 10.8% rally in November.

Technology mega-caps such as Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc powered much of this year’s gains but have taken a backseat in recent weeks as investors shifted to economically-sensitive sectors on cheaper valuations and hopes of an eventual recovery.

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