Stock futures opened slightly higher Monday evening, with developments on the Covid-19 vaccine front, stimulus talks in Washington and corporate earnings results front and center.
Developments in the race to create a Covid-19 vaccine picked up again on Monday. Shares of Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) rose in late trading, after the two companies announced they would be beginning a Phase 2/3 study of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The announcement after market close came following Moderna’s (MRNA) Monday morning announcement that it had begun a late-stage clinical trial for its own Covid-19 vaccine candidate, sending shares 9% higher during the regular session.
After market close Monday, Senate Republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the HEALS Act, or proposal for a new stimulus bill to help individuals impacted by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act includes a second stimulus check worth up to $1,200 for the same group of Americans as the last round, and will extend enhanced unemployment assistance at a lowered rate of $200 per week, down from $600 per week previously, until states could deliver a replacement worth about 70% of lost wages.
The Senate’s $1 trillion stimulus plan diverges considerably from that floated by the House Democrats earlier, which calls for more than $3 trillion in relief and includes an extension of the flat $600 per week in unemployment benefits until January next year.
“We don’t know for sure how things will now play out. Either side could blink, though we think substantial movement is much more likely to come from Republicans,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note Monday evening. “The most likely outcome probably is that the idea of a narrow bill is abandoned and a long slog of negotiations then follows, with the Congressional recess delayed.”
“In the meantime, we’d expect to see the near-real-time economic indicators deteriorate further as household incomes drop after the expiration of the initial enhanced unemployment benefits,” he added.
In addition to monitoring stimulus discussions, market participants on Tuesday will also eye a flood of corporate earnings results before and after the bell. McDonalds (MCD), JetBlue (JBLU) and Pfizer (PFE) are among the notable companies to report early Monday, and Visa (V), Starbucks (SBUX), eBay (EBAY) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are set to report after market close.
6:10 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open higher
Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:10 p.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,236.25, up 4 points or 0.12%
Dow futures (YM=F): 26,524.00, up 40 points, or 0.15%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 10,691.5, up 16.25 points, or 0.15%