Stock futures open little changed as protests continue, economic data stabilizes

Stock futures opened roughly flat Monday evening, as investors eyed stabilizing economic data alongside ongoing protests across the country, which spurred some concerns of a ramp-up in coronavirus cases following a deescalation in the outbreak.

Big Tech firms and the tech-heavy Nasdaq continued their run of outperformance, with the Nasdaq just 2.7% below its recent all-time high from February 19 as of Monday’s close.

On the economic data front, an index of U.S. manufacturing activity released Monday morning rose for the first time since January, stoking hopes that worst of the downturn was over, even as the gauge held in contractionary territory.

“We say better days ahead as the Institute of Supply Management still makes the claim that the broader economy is no longer in recession as long as their index is 42.8 or higher,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank, said in an email of the index, which came in at 43.1 for May. “One small step for manufacturing today means one giant leap for the broader economy.”

Stocks ended Monday’s session higher despite the tensions across the country as demonstrators rallied against police brutality following the senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by officers last week.

The protracted mass gatherings – many of which came alongside instances of looting, vandalism and destruction of retail outlets – led at least some analysts to speculate at the prospect of a re-escalation of Covid-19 cases, which could weigh on the economic recovery.

“The timing could not have been worse. All of a sudden we have 90% of the population in the U.S. in a phase-back state, and now you are trying to reopen the small businesses and the social unrest really derails the economic recovery,” Deepak Puri, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Americas chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. on Monday. “I don’t think this is going to be something that permanently hampers economic output, but it really makes concerns.”

Some policymakers shared similar worries.

“We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City, and now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could in fact exacerbate the COVID-19 spread,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference Monday.

New York City is set to have a curfew stretch from Monday night at 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning ET, during which thousands of police officers will patrol the streets, according to a statement from Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York City joins more than three dozen other cities across the nation that have instilled curfews in recent days, as officials try to prevent further violence and property damage coming alongside some of the demonstrations.

In Minneapolis, where the protests began, curfews are set to remain in place for at least the next two nights, though some members of the National Guard who had earlier been activated have been sent home, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said.

6:06 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open little changed

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:06 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,051.75, down 2.25 points (-0.07%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 25,443.00, down 20 points (-0.08%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 9,586.50, down 8.5 points (-0.09%)

Protesters march against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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