U.S. stock futures are flat after Friday’s record-setting session

ANASTASIA ZYG


Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

NYSE

U.S. stock futures were little changed on Sunday night following a record-setting session as Wall Street searched for clues on additional fiscal aid.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures traded lower by just 9 points, or less than 0.1%. S&P 500 dipped 0.1%, and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.1%.

The major averages posted intraday and closing all-time highs on Friday, with the Dow popping more than 200 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.9% and 0.7%, respectively.

Those gains came even after the release of disappointing U.S. jobs data. The Labor Department reported that 245,000 were created in November. Economists polled by Dow Jones had forecast that 440,000 were added last month.

Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, wrote the jobs report was “not so bad” as most of the labor-market slowdown last month came from government jobs.

“The clear message is that while the recovery in the labor market has lagged behind the recovery in overall GDP, both continue to regain ground lost during the lockdown recession of March and April,” Yardeni added.

The disappointing print also gave stocks a boost by lifting expectations of a new fiscal stimulus package being passed before year-end.

In a tweet Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the report “shows the need for strong, urgent emergency relief is more important than ever.” President-elect Joe Biden also said the data foreshadows a “dark winter.”

Those comments followed a bipartisan group of senators unveiling a $908 billion aid proposal earlier last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially shut down the measure, but a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later said she and McConnell discussed their “shared commitment to completing an omnibus [spending bill] and COVID relief as soon as possible.”

“At this point, the market is anticipating at least several hundred billion dollars of incremental stimulus in 2020,” said Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, in a note. But “whereas Washington had been a tailwind in late-Nov and early-Dec as fiscal progress occurred faster than anticipated, the whole topic is starting to become more neutral (and possibly a headwind to the extent Congress fails to deliver on investor assumptions).”

Lawmakers had been at a stalemate over additional fiscal aid for months before last week, raising concern about the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 14 million Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. along with over 282,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations have also reached record levels in the U.S. The increasing number of coronavirus cases has led some states and cities to reimpose stricter social distancing measures to curb the outbreak.

“Renewed lockdown restrictions in response to the third wave of the pandemic are likely to weigh on the economy in coming months, but we don’t expect a double dip,” said Yardeni. “The economy could be booming next spring if enough of us are inoculated against the virus.”

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