Dow futures edge up in holiday-shortened Christmas Eve trade

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Dow futures edge up in holiday-shortened Christmas Eve trade


U.S. stock-index futures were seeing slight gains on Thursday morning , in the final trading day of the Christmas week, with activity expected to be subdued due to the holiday.

On Thursday, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will end trading at 1 p.m. Eastern Time while Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommends a 2 p.m. close for trading in bonds. Markets will be closed on Friday in observance of Christmas.

How are stock benchmarks performing?

On Wednesday, the small-cap focused Russell 2000 index booked its 13th record close of 2020 while most other equity gauges logged modest gains.

  • The Russell 2000 index
    RUT,
    +0.87%

    closed 17.22 points, or 0.9%, ending at a record 2,007.10.

  • The Dow
    DJIA,
    +0.38%

    closed 114.32 points, or 0.4%, to end at 30,129.83.

  • The S&P 500 index
    SPX,
    +0.07%

    finished 2.75 points, or 0.1%, higher to close at 3,690.01, snapping a 3-session slide.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index
    COMP,
    -0.29%

    lost 36.80 points, or 0.3%, to close at 12,771.11.

What’s driving the market?

Markets remain fixated on the completion of the coronavirus aid and government funding legislation that Congress passed on Monday after President Donald Trump expressed his unhappiness with it.

On Wednesday, Trump, who has asked lawmakers to increase direct payments to qualified individuals to $2,000 from $600, also vetoed a $740.5 billion defense-policy bill.

CNBC reported that Democrats will on Thursday attempt to pass the increase to the direct payments to households requested by Trump, but Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will object.

Thursday trade also begins a period in U.S. equities, known as the Santa Claus rally, that has historically been good for equities, producing an average 1.3% gain over the stretch, according to research from Ryan Detrick at LPL Financial.

However, the market continues to be haunted by worries about the scope of the spread of the coronavirus , despite a roll out of vaccines. A spike in deaths and hospitalizations from COVID, has taken the shine off reaching what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called an “early but important” milestone of more than 1 million people vaccinated. 

Indeed, daily new U.S. cases of Covid-19 rose to 227,522 on Wednesday from 201,674 on Tuesday, according to data provided by the New York Times. The death toll increased to 3,411 from 3,239, to mark the second-worst day since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations grew by 1,702 to a record 119,463 on Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Meanwhile, investors awaited the imminent announcement of a Brexit trade deal, after months of protracted negotiations. Investors say that the deal won’t be a significant catalyst for U.S. markets but does remove one headwind for investors amid a plethora of virus and non-virus related worries.

Those political wrangles come as the U.K. announced tightened COVID lockdown measures, with a number of regions set to enter the toughest tier 4 level of restrictions on Saturday as the country battles to limit a variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 which is said to be more transmissible.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group
BABA,
+0.14%

were in focus amid reports that Chinese regulators on Thursday are pursuing an antimonopoly investigation.

Shares of Cloudera Inc.
CLDR,
+2.46%

may be in focus after the company said late Wednesday that it bought back all of Intel Corp.’s
INTC,
+0.87%

 stake in the company for $314 million. 



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