Nasdaq futures jump, hopes grow for stimulus

(Reuters) – Nasdaq futures jumped on Monday as markets geared up for a busy week of earnings from mega-cap technology companies, against the backdrop of rising hopes for a fiscal package from the Biden administration.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the exterior of the Nasdaq market site in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

The so-called “stay-at-home” winners including Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Apple Inc rose between 1.4% and 2.2% in premarket trading, as investors were optimistic of their earnings reports following upbeat results from Netflix Inc last week.

Microsoft, scheduled to report results on Tuesday, rose 1.5% as Wedbush raised its price target on the software maker’s stock on expectations of further growth in its cloud business for 2021.

Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive, even as lawmakers from both parties agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority.

“Expectations of substantial fiscal aid are keeping the bulls in charge,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

“Some investors remain concerned about the surge in COVID-19 mutations, but it’s fiscal and monetary policies along with earnings that will determine the next move in equities.”

Wall Street’s main indexes touched record highs last week on hopes of a full economic reopening, backed by efficient distribution of vaccines across the country, that is suffering more than 175,000 new cases a day with millions out of work.

The Dow and the S&P 500 ended modestly lower on Friday, dragged down by losses in blue-chip technology stalwarts Intel Corp and IBM following their quarterly results, and as investors sold off economy-linked energy and bank shares after a recent rally.

With pricey stock market valuations, investors are keeping an eye out for corporate forecasts to justify it, given the expectation of an economic rebound this year. Earnings are expected to rise 23.7% this year after falling 14.1% in 2020, according to Refinitiv.

At 6:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 13 points, or 0.04%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 11 points, or 0.29%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 123 points, or 0.92%.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc added 1.5% after RBC raised its price target on the chipmaker’s stock on expectations of upbeat fourth-quarter earnings, helped by upside from PC demand, GPU demand and improving server trends.

Merck & Co Inc fell 1.2% after the drugmaker said it will end development of its two COVID-19 vaccines and focus pandemic research on treatments, with initial efficacy data on an experimental oral antiviral expected by the end of March.

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