Stock futures open little changed after choppy session

Stock futures kicked off the overnight session roughly flat on the heels of a volatile trading day Thursday, with stocks whipsawed amid conflicting signals over the results of a clinical trial for a coronavirus antiviral treatment candidate.

The Financial Times cited draft documents accidentally published by the World Health Organization in reporting that a Chinese study for Gilead’s drug remdesivir produced inconclusive results in the treatment’s first randomized clinical trial – a characterization which Gilead later disputed.

The coronavirus pandemic showed further, but still tentative, signs of leveling off on Thursday, with hospitalizations and new diagnoses declining in the hardest-hit U.S. states of New York and New Jersey. Separately, however, California reported its “deadliest day” on Thursday, adding 115 new deaths, or the highest for the state in a 24-hour period. Earlier this week, some southern states began a multi-phase economic reopening process. Still, however, many medical experts have warned that easing social distancing restrictions across the country too soon could backfire and trigger another major wave of infections.

Still, weeks-long social distancing measures have ravaged the U.S. economy. Further signs of the devastating economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic emerged on Thursday, with the Labor Department reporting another 4.427 million individuals filed new unemployment claims last week. The new data marked the third straight week that new jobless claims fell on a week-over-week basis, but brought the total number of initial unemployment insurance claims over the last five weeks to more than 26 million.

“Net, net, jobless claims are warning that the worst isn’t over yet for the American economy with businesses and consumers alike being sucked down into the abyss of the pandemic recession,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG, wrote in a note Thursday.

Thursday after market close, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $486 billion relief package to provide funds to small businesses and hospitals upended by the pandemic. The legislation, which boosts a vital small business aid program that ran out of funds last week, was cleared by the Senate earlier this week, and heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for signing.

6:03 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures little changed after volatile session

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:03 p.m. ET Thursday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 1 point, or +0.04% to 2,781.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): up 13 points, or +0.06% to 23,350.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): down 11.75 points, or -0.14% to 8,587.00

American Stock Exchange

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