Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow edged higher on Thursday as hopes for a swift roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine took the focus off a report that is likely to show an increase in weekly jobless claims.
A panel of medical experts are due to meet later in the day to decide on a recommendation for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Some officials said vaccinations could begin as soon as this weekend if the FDA consented. Pfizer’s shares rose 0.4% before the bell.
Wall Street’s main indexes have scaled record highs in the past few weeks as investors bet on a vaccine-linked economic recovery and shrugged off glum macroeconomic data showing the near-term impact from sweeping coronavirus-induced lockdowns.
The latest such indicator, the weekly jobless claims report, is due at 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and is expected to show 725,000 applications for the week ended Dec. 5, compared with 712,000 in the prior week.
Investors are also keeping an eye out for signs of more fiscal stimulus to speed up the labor market’s recovery.
U.S. lawmakers approved a stopgap government funding bill on Wednesday that would provide more time for negotiations, but an agreement has remained elusive due to disagreements over aid to state and local governments and business liability protections.
“The worsening pandemic in late 2020 calls for a new crisis package (and) we think Congress will agree on additional spending by then, but it is a close call,” analysts at Standard Chartered Bank wrote in a note.
At 06:50 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were up 41 points, or 0.14%, S&P 500 E-minis were up 2 points, or 0.05%, and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were down 15.5 points, or 0.13%.
Global market sentiment was a little more downbeat after S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would remove 10 Chinese companies from its equities indices following a Trump administration order to prohibit purchases by U.S. investors of certain Chinese securities.
Among individual stocks, Facebook Inc fell 1%, extending declines from the previous session.
The social media company could be forced to sell its prized assets WhatsApp and Instagram after the Federal Trade Commission and nearly every U.S. state filed lawsuits against it.
Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta