October 21, 2020

Stock futures trade cautiously ahead of final session of the week

U.S. equity futures are trading cautiously as a rollercoaster week comes to an end.

The major futures indexes are indicating a gain of 0.1% when trading begins on Wall Street.

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Despite signs of a global economic rebound in the third quarter, worries remain the upturn may be running out of steam.

House Democrats said they are paring back their proposal for a new stimulus package in an attempt to jump-start negotiations with the Trump administration.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have said the government’s top priority should be to provide affordable loans to small businesses and further support for millions of Americans still unemployed.

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Paralyzing partisanship has prevented a congressional renewal of aid, and the recent vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg deepened the divide.

In Europe, London’s FTSE is little changed, Germany’s DAX was off 0.5% and France’s CAC fell 0.6%.

In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.5%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up earlier gains, falling 0.3% and China’s Shanghai Composite index fell 0.1%.

The U.S. presidential election is a big factor, particularly after President Trump’s refusal Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transition of power i f he lost, and rising tensions between the U.S.and China. Adding to the uncertainty is the question of how soon drugmakers will be able to develop a coronavirus vaccine to stem future waves of outbreaks.

In Thursday’s trading, the S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,246.59 after swinging between a loss of 0.9% and a gain of 1.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 26,815.44. The Nasdaq composite added 0.4% to 10,672.27.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 26815.44 +52.31 +0.20%
SP500 S&P 500 3246.59 +9.67 +0.30%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 10672.266213 +39.28 +0.37%

Thursday’s headline report showed 870,000 workers filed for unemployment claims last week, worse than economists had expected.

The August durable goods report will be in focus Friday morning. The Census Bureau is expected to say that new orders for manufactured big-ticket items rose 1.5% last month, down from July’s much larger-than-expected 11.4% surge. If you factor out the transportation component, orders are anticipated to rise 1.2% according to economists surveyed by Refinitiv.

Layered on top of all the myriad concerns are the still-raging coronavirus pandemic and the threat that worsening counts around the world could lead to more business restrictions.

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In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 21 cents to $40.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 30 cents to $42.24 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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