Thursday February 11th


Stock futures edge higher after Dow closes at record level

U.S. stock index futures rose in early morning trading on Thursday as markets looked to continued February’s momentum. Futures contracts tied to the Dow rose 70 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures also traded in mildly positive territory. Investors awaited data on weekly jobless claims, due 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect new claims for jobless benefits to come in at 760,000 last week, slightly lower than a total of 779,000 in the week prior. The move in futures comes after the Dow advanced slightly Wednesday to close at a record high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also hit all-time highs during Wednesday’s session, but the indexes couldn’t ultimately hold onto those gains. The S&P wound up closing 0.03% lower, while the Nasdaq slid 0.25%. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the economy faces challenges in the labor market, and so monetary policy needs to stay “patiently accommodative.” In remarks at the Economic Club of New York, Powell said the employment picture is a “long way” from where it needs to be. “Powell stuck to his guns today,” said LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “With many worried about too much stimulus and higher inflation, he is more worried about a stubborn employment picture. The truth is low rates are here to stay for the foreseeable future and today’s speech did little to change that,” he added. For the week all three major averages are higher, and on track to post their second positive week in a row. While still early in the month, the indexes are also higher for February. The Russell 2000 continues to attract attention, and the small cap index is outpacing the S&P for the week, month and year so far. In Washington stimulus talks are ongoing, with investors anticipating that any additional relief measures would support equities further. “The markets are anticipating a large amount of stimulus being pumped into the economy,” noted Scott Wren, senior global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “We do believe additional stimulus is needed to help the economy and consumers bridge the gap between now and when vaccines are more widely administered and lockdowns are lifted,” he added. A busy week of earnings will continue on Thursday. PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz and Kellogg are among the names set to report before the market opens. Disney and Expedia will give their quarterly reports after the bell on Thursday. Of the S&P 500 components that have reported earnings thus far, more than 80% have topped Wall Street’s expectations, according to a CNBC analysis. “As we move through February, we have states reopening, the virus subsiding, and vaccinations spreading quickly. Looking back, we had jobs declining, layoffs rising, and confidence down,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. Trading in Asia-Pacific was muted Thursday as multiple major markets in the region were closed for holidays. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.45% on the day to 30,173.57 while the Straits Times index in Singapore closed little changed at 2,925.48. Markets in Hong Kong and Singapore ended their trading day earlier than usual on the eve of the Lunar New Year. Markets in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were closed for holidays. Oil prices fell on Thursday, giving up some of the recent strong gains, although losses were curbed by production cuts and hopes that rollouts of vaccines will drive a recovery in demand. Brent crude fell 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $61.08 a barrel, as of 0231 GMT, after touching its highest since January 2020 on Wednesday. U.S. crude slid 35 cents, or 0.6%, to $58.33 a barrel. Platinum prices rose to their highest in more than six years on Thursday, extending a solid run on market hopes that an economic recovery would boost demand from the automobile sector. Platinum rose 1.3% to $1,257.51 an ounce by 1043 GMT, having earlier jumped as much as 2.2% to its highest since January 2015. Palladium also firmed 0.2% to $2,361.04 per ounce, not far from a near three-week high hit on Wednesday. Both metals are used by automakers in catalytic converters to clean car exhaust fumes. Meanwhile, the CME Group raised margins for platinum futures by 10%. This is a typical move by exchanges to mitigate risks as price volatility increases. Spot gold edged 0.1% lower to $1,841.28 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were trading flat at $1,842.90. Spot silver rose 0.5% to $27.13 an ounce.