Wednesday August 19th


Stock futures rise slightly after the S&P 500 notches new record, Target leads retail shares higher

U.S. stock index futures were higher early Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 hit its highest level ever and wiped out all the losses from the coronavirus sell-off. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 47 points, or 0.2%. The moved indicated an opening gain of about 51 points. S&P 500 futures added 0.2%. Nasdaq 100 futures were higher by 0.1%. Target shares jumped 5% after the retailer reported soaring profit and sales last quarter. Digital sales increased by 197% from a year ago. Lowe’s shares gained 1% after the home improvement retailer reported a 30% surge in second-quarter revenue. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are trending lower, but officials are cautious as students begin returning to school and college campuses. Some colleges have been forced to change to all online learning because of outbreaks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin criticized Democratic leaders as unwilling to discuss a smaller relief package on Tuesday; however, Politico reported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is was willing to cut some demands to get an agreement on the bill. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose to its highest level ever, gaining back all of the index’s coronavirus-related losses. The 500-stock average rose 0.2% to a record close of 3,389.78. It also traded above its Feb. 19 intraday record of 3,393.52 earlier in the trading day. The S&P has rallied more than 54% from its March low, bringing an end to the shortest bear market in U.S. history. The Nasdaq Composite also notched a record on Tuesday after gaining 0.7%, helped by a 4% gain in Amazon and a near 2% gain in Netflix. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 66 points. “Reaching a new all-time high may be a quickly forgotten speed bump in an ongoing new bull market, but if not substantially passed in the coming weeks, it could also prove to be a nagging glass ceiling that will continue to perpetuate fears this really is just a big bear market rally,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC. “Bulls need to ask whether the stock market may finally be getting ahead of its fundamentals while bears are forced to ask whether they are too underweighted in what could be just the beginning of a new bull market.” Shares of retailers capped the major averages gains on Tuesday, despite Walmart and Home Depot’s better-than-expected quarterly results. Kohl’s plunged more than 14% after the company offered a grim outlook ahead of the all-important holiday season. Closely watched chip stock Nvidia reports quarterly results after the market close on Wednesday. Investors are still eyeing a second coronavirus stimulus bill from Washington. The Federal Open Market Committee will publish its meeting minutes from its June meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as the S&P 500 stateside rose to a new record overnight. Mainland Chinese stocks were lower by their close, as the Shanghai composite fell 1.24% to around 3,408.13 while the Shenzhen component dropped 2.087% to about 13,480.85. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.26% to end its trading day at 23,110.61 while the Topix index gained 0.18% to close at 1,613.73. Japan’s exports in July declined 19.2% as compared with a year ago, according to provisional trade statistics from the country’s Ministry of Finance released Wednesday. That compares with a median forecast for a 21.0% decline by economists in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 0.74% to close at 25,178.91. Morning trade in the city was suspended earlier due to severe weather. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.52% to close at 2,360.54. Oil prices eased on Wednesday as concerns grew that U.S. fuel demand may not recover quickly amid stalled talks on a post-coronavirus economic stimulus package, overshadowing a bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stocks. With investors keeping one eye on a key producer countries’ ministerial meeting later in the day, Brent crude futures fell 38 cents, or 0.84%, to $45.08 a barrel, having edged up 9 cents on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 36 cents, or 0.84%, at $42.53 a barrel, having ended unchanged the previous day. Gold fell below $2,000 an ounce on Wednesday after rising sharply in the previous session as the dollar steadied, while investors awaited minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting. Spot gold was down 0.4% at $1,993.68 per ounce by 0253 GMT, after hitting a one-week high of $2,014.97 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.5% to $2,002.50.