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Futures muted in the last trading session of 2020

Futures muted in the last trading session of 2020

FILE PHOTO: The boot on the statue of George Washington, the first president of the United States, is seen across from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) following Election Day in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

REUTERS: U.S. stock index futures were muted in the last trading session of a tumultuous year on Thursday, as investors digested big market gains and hoped that more stimulus and coronavirus vaccines will drive a strong economic recovery in 2021.

Wall Street's main indexes surged to record highs this week in a stunning recovery since March when the COVID-19 triggered the steepest global recession in generations and left millions of Americans unemployed.

Unprecedented levels of central bank and government stimulus have helped the benchmark S&P 500 index climb almost 70per cent from its March low and put it on course for a more than 15per cent annual gain.

The Nasdaq, which has benefited from a surge in the valuation of tech mega-caps such as Alphabet Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc - is on course to record a 43per cent increase in 2020, its best yearly performance since 2009.

Countries across the globe are still fighting a rapid surge in cases, with the highly infectious COVID-19 variant originally discovered in Britain detected in California, a day after the first known U.S. case was documented in Colorado.

However, a favorable U.S. election outcome, large-scale vaccination campaigns and signs that a fiscal stimulus deal will be eventually reached in Washington helped Wall Street continue its rally.

At 07:36 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 19 points, or 0.06per cent, S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.03per cent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10.25 points, or 0.08per cent.

Trading volumes are expected to be light with many traders away on New Year's Eve.

Near-term expectations of bigger stimulus checks dimmed after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a quick vote to back President Donald Trump's call to increase COVID-19 relief checks to US$2,000 from US$600.

All eyes will be on two U.S. Senate races in Georgia next week that will determine control of the chamber and influence Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's ability to enact his agenda.

The U.S. Labor Department's weekly unemployment report is due at 08:30 a.m. ET, which is expected to show a rise in jobless claims, strengthening views of a slowing economic recovery.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Supriya R in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: Reuters

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