Stock futures traded flat Tuesday morning, as investors digested a number of developments around President Donald Trump’s health and considered a moving target of possible election outcomes and prospects for further fiscal stimulus.
Contracts on the S&P 500 hugged the flat line, after the blue-chip index closed at its highest level in nearly one month during the regular session on Monday. The energy sector led the advance as a risk-on mood sent crude oil prices sharply higher. A gain in tech stocks including Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Tesla (TSLA) pushed the Nasdaq to an advance of more than 2.3%.
Traders eyed a number of developments amid the rally, with most surrounding updates out of Washington. Trump departed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday to return to the White House, just days after entering the hospital on Friday to be treated for Covid-19. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump had “met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria,” while conceding that he “may not be entirely out of the woods yet” in his recovery process.
Separately, former Vice President Joe Biden widened his lead in a number of recent polls capturing the period following the Trump’s positive Covid-19 test. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 2-3 showed Biden ahead by 10 percentage points, for an increase in his lead since the period after the first presidential debate but before Trump announced his virus test result.
Lisa Shalett, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance on Monday that the widening in the polls – more so than the candidate in the lead himself – helped remove an element of uncertainty that had recently been weighing on stocks.
“As the polls widen, the only thing that that’s telling you is that the odds of this being an election that doesn’t get decided for weeks or months perhaps comes off the table,” Shalett said. “And I think that last week and the last week in September was really dominated by that, where people were less concerned about who wins, and this idea that somehow our democracy was going to be so challenged that we weren’t going to know the results of a presidential election unless it went to court.”
“I don’t think investors want this to go to court, regardless of whether the winner has a blue shirt or a red shirt at the end of the day,” she added. “And I think that with widening polls that possibility gets taken off the table and so a little bit of risk premium comes out.”
Others, however, maintained that investors were more specifically pricing in the rising likelihood of a Biden presidency and potential for a Democratic sweep.
“To me, the optimism in the market has to do with an increased conviction that Joe Biden will win [the presidency] and that will bring in a Blue Wave which in turn, will bring a large fiscal stimulus package early next year,” Isaac Boltansky, Compass Point Research director of policy research, told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.
8:30 a.m. ET: US trade deficit widened to $67.1 billion in August, the biggest since 2006
The US trade deficit yawned further to $67.1 billion in August from $63.4 billion in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. This marked the widest since August 2006, as the coronavirus pandemic weighed heavily on global trade, and as imports recover more quickly than exports in the wake of the outbreak.
Imports rose 3.2% month-over-month to $239 billion, according to the report. Exports rose 2.2% to $171.9 billion.
For the year-to-date, the US deficit in goods and services jumped by 5.7%, or $22.6 billion, from the same period last year, with exports down 17.6% and imports down 13.1%.
7:20 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures point to a muted open as Wall Street searches for direction
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:20 a.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,385.75, down 7.25 points or 0.21%
Dow futures (YM=F): 27,991.00, down 4 points or 0.01%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,427.50, down 41.75 points or 0.36%
Crude (CL=F): +$0.51 (+1.3%) to $39.73 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$1.30 (-0.07%) to $1,918.80 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.8 bps to yield 0.77%
6:10 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures tick higher to extend earlier gains
Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 6:10 p.m. ET Thursday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,394.25, up 1.25 points or 0.04%
Dow futures (YM=F): 28,015.00, up 20 points or 0.07%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,481.00, up 11.75 points or 0.1%
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