U.S. stock futures rose and the dollar dropped on Thursday as investors cheered signs of progress toward a fresh stimulus package that could support the economy through a potential winter slowdown.
Futures tied to the S&P 500 rose 0.5%, suggesting the benchmark stocks gauge may rise for a third straight day at the opening bell. The S&P 500 closed at its second-highest level ever Wednesday. Futures tied to the technology-focused Nasdaq-100 also rose 0.5%.
Congressional leaders on Wednesday closed in on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal that includes another round of direct payments to households. After months of gridlock, the emerging agreement represented a breakthrough at a critical time in the pandemic, with vaccine distribution under way but hospitalizations hitting record highs.
Investors broadly think a new dose of stimulus is necessary to gird the economy until the end of winter and widespread vaccinations have the potential to bring the virus under control in 2021. Rising cases appear to have hit consumer sentiment, weighing on retail sales, and there are new business restrictions in some states.
“The stimulus is key,” said Mary Nicola, a portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments.
Labor-market data on Thursday added to evidence that the economy has hit a speed bump. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 23,000 to 885,000 in the week ending Dec. 12, whereas economists were expecting a small decline.
“Any stimulus is good stimulus at this point, especially when you’re coming through a rough patch,” Ms. Nicola added. “This will provide a bit more of a boost to the recovery.”
Ahead of the bell in New York, shares in
rose almost 4% after the home builder said first-quarter home deliveries and orders would be stronger than analysts expect.
International markets also advanced Thursday. The regionwide Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.5%, led by shares in economically sensitive commodity producers and retailers alongside media companies. China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.1% higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ticked up 0.2%.
Among European stocks, shares in
rose almost 5% after the advertising giant said sales are recovering faster than expected from the coronavirus shock. London-listed shares of Rio Tinto rose 1.6% after the mining company named chief financial officer Jakob Stausholm as its new chief executive.
In bonds, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes edged up to 0.926% from 0.920% Wednesday. The dollar extended its recent slide. The WSJ Dollar Index fell 0.4%, after dropping to its lowest level since April 2018 on Wednesday.
That decline came after the Federal Reserve said $120 billion a month in asset purchases will continue until…
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