Stock Futures Gain on Earnings, Stimulus Hopes

Stock Futures Gain on Earnings, Stimulus Hopes


U.S. stock futures edged higher Wednesday, with technology stocks poised to lead gains as investors cheered corporate earnings and the prospect of more fiscal stimulus.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked up 0.3%, suggesting that the broader market will extend its rally. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up a more muted 0.1%. Tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 futures rose 0.5% after Alphabet reported strong sales growth late Tuesday.

Stock markets have rallied this week, shaking off concerns about stretched valuations, a sharp run-up in prices for a handful of stocks and silver, a weak economic backdrop and the threat of new coronavirus variants. Investors have focused instead on better-than-expected corporate results and bets that President Biden will deliver more fiscal spending in coming weeks.

“The last two days have seen the return of the feeling that we still have monetary stimulus in the background and the prospect of an additional stimulus package to come,” said

Seema Shah,

chief strategist at Principal Global Advisors. “The path ahead isn’t a smooth one, but we think it is an upward one.”

Shares in Alphabet climbed over 7% in off-hours trading after the parent of Google said late Tuesday that it had booked record revenue in the fourth quarter.

Amazon.com


AMZN 1.11%

edged down 0.6% in premarket trading, after posting gains after hours late Tuesday. The giant online retailer posted record quarterly sales, marking the first time its revenue crossed more than $100 billion in a three-month period. It also said

Jeff Bezos

would be stepping down as CEO.

More companies including Spotify Technology and Apollo Global Management are scheduled to report earnings ahead of the opening bell, while

Qualcomm


QCOM 1.98%

and

Costco Wholesale

are due to report after markets close.

“Earnings have been definitely quite a bit stronger than anyone expected, and they are led by the areas that we have so far seen strength in: the tech sector, the stay-at-home sector,” said Matt Forester, chief investment officer of BNY Mellon’s Lockwood Advisors. “We still have a lot to see, though, particularly in the sectors that have been so heavily impacted by Covid.”

Investors are also tracking talks between lawmakers over another round of coronavirus relief measures. President Biden’s administration has called for a package totaling $1.9 trillion, though a counter offer from Republicans this week was less than half of that. The Democrats are expected to make a decision in coming days on whether to start trying to quickly push into law a larger stimulus bill on their own.

“The bigger focus is on the timing,” said Mrs. Shah. “There is a general view that the stimulus will be sizable, the important question is, does it come soon enough because the U.S. economy needs it now.”

Later in the day, fresh economic data will offer clues on the health of the services sector and the labor market. The Institute for Supply Management’s services index for January is due at 10 a.m. ET, and is expected to show a continued expansion in activity for January.

In commodity markets, Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil, rose 0.7% to $57.91 a barrel. The gauge is near its highest level since the pandemic rattled global financial markets last spring.

Silver prices steadied on Wednesday after days of volatile trading. The metal gained 1.7% to $26.85 a troy ounce.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.5%.

Italy’s FTSE MIB stocks index outperformed other regional benchmarks, rising 2.1% amid expectations that former European Central Bank President

Mario Draghi

would be called on to form a new government. The nation’s bond yields ticked down to 0.562%, from 0.651% on Tuesday.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1% by the close of trading. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2% while on the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index fell almost 0.5%.

Alphabet shares jumped in offhours trading after Google posted record revenue for the fourth quarter.



Photo:

robyn beck/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Write to Will Horner at [email protected]

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