Market Overview

Stock futures slightly higher ahead of holiday-shortened session

U.S. stock index futures were higher in early morning trading on Thursday, ahead of the final trading day of the holiday-shortened week. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 40 points. S&P 500 futures rose and Nasdaq 100 futures also traded in mildly positive territory.

The S&P 500 finished Wednesday’s session little changed — rising less than 0.1% — after sliding in the final minutes of trading. Still, the benchmark index did manage to snap a three-day losing streak. The Dow gained 114.32 points, or 0.38%, after rising more than 270 points at one point during the session. The Nasdaq Composite hit a record high, before erasing those gains and closing 0.29% lower.

The late-day slide came as investors took profits into the end of the year, and as President Donald Trump vetoed a sweeping defense bill. The move came after he called Congress’ $900 billion Covid relief package — months long in the making — an unsuitable “disgrace.” The president took particular issue with the direct payments, which he said should be lifted from $600 to $2,000.

Democrats will attempt to pass $2,000 direct payments on Thursday, but Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will object, CNBC reported. Meanwhile, McCarthy plans to offer a new temporary spending bill separating State Department and foreign aid funding from the broader spending package — a plan Democrats would likely oppose.

The major averages were mixed heading into the final day of the holiday-shortened week. The Nasdaq is on track to end the week higher, while the Dow and S&P 500 are modestly lower for the week. The Russell 2,000, which hit a new intraday and all-time closing high on Wednesday, is also higher for the week. Amid strength in small cap names, the index is on track for its eighth straight week of gains — the longest weekly winning streak since Feb. 2019.

With just 4.5 trading days left in the year, the Nasdaq is on pace to be the clear winner, currently up around 42%. The Russell 2,000 is up 20% for the year, while the Dow and S&P 500 are up 5.6% and 14.2%, respectively.

On the data front, U.S. jobless claims totaled 803,000 during the week ending Dec. 19, better than an estimate of 888,000 according to economists polled by Dow Jones. However, core durable goods and personal income both fell short of expectations in November.

Stock futures slightly higher ahead of holiday-shortened session, Reuters, Dec 24

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