- 3M gains as mask demand surges
- Southwest posts first quarterly loss in nine years
- U.S. consumer confidence data due later in the day
- Fed to kick off two-day policy meeting
- Futures up: Dow 1.66%, S&P 500 1.44%, Nasdaq 1.06% (Adds comments, updates prices)
By C Nivedita
April 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Tuesday after a round of quarterly earnings reports brought upbeat signs from Pfizer and respiratory mask-maker 3M for investors increasingly hopeful of a relaunch of business across the economy.
3M Co, the world’s biggest maker of N95 respirator masks, rose 4.8% in premarket trading after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profit, although it suspended its 2020 forecast due to the health crisis.
Drugmaker Pfizer Inc reiterated its full-year forecast and reported higher sales of its pneumonia vaccine as physicians prescribed it to prevent infections caused by the virus. Its shares gained 2.3%.
Investors are now gearing up for one of the busiest weeks for high profile tech-related earnings reports from the likes of Microsoft Corp, Google-parent Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc.
“This is going to be an important test for the market as lots of businesses moved online following the lockdown,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard in London.
“If these big heavyweights in the tech space don’t deliver on the expectations, then of course the rally we’ve seen over the past few weeks (will) have to be questioned.”
Wall Street has recovered more than 30% from its March lows, rescued by aggressive stimulus efforts and, more recently, signs that states were moving to let businesses reopen after a near total halt in activity.
Still, the benchmark S&P 500 index remains 17% away from reclaiming a record high hit in February and analysts have warned of further losses if a deep global recession, as many now expect, sets in.
“It’s a catch-22 sort of situation,” said Adam Vettese, analyst at investment platform eToro in London.
“The longer the lockdown, we could be in for worse economic data because we are stifling the economy for longer. That said, if we lift it too early and see a resurgence in cases, then also we are in a bad situation, which could then lead to more bad economic data.”
Consumer confidence figures for April due later in the day are expected to slide further from near three-year lows hit in March, as widespread production halts put millions of Americans out of work.
Investors are also watching a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting that kicks off on Tuesday, although expectations are low for more central bank easing at this time.
At 8:51 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 399 points, or 1.66%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 41.25 points, or 1.44% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 93.25 points, or 1.06%.
Harley-Davidson Inc jumped 8.2% as it took more steps to boost its cash reserves to deal with the drop in motorcycle sales due to lockdowns.
Elsewhere, the damage from the lockdowns continued to mount, with Southwest Airlines down 1.4% after reporting its first quarterly loss in nine years due to the virtual halt in global travel.
Ford Motor Co and Starbucks Corp are among other big names reporting after markets close.
The CBOE volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, fell on Tuesday and hovered near two month lows, indicating a risk-on sentiment. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Anil D’Silva)