Stock futures open slightly higher

Stock futures opened in slightly positive territory Wednesday evening, extending regular-session gains that sent the S&P 500 to its highest level since early March.

During the regular session Wednesday, stocks closed higher as investors considered more developments about states’ reopenings and easing lockdown restrictions, which came alongside some more positive corporate earnings results from retailers including Lowe’s (LOW). And while shares of Target closed lower Wednesday, the big-box retailer reported quarterly results that topped consensus estimates, underscoring some retailers’ successes in leveraging digital sales to mitigate disruptions due to stay in place orders.

Other companies, however, have reported stunning declines in business activity during the pandemic. Travel company Expedia (EXPE) swung to a quarterly loss and said it saw gross bookings decline of as much as 90% in the second half of March, according to recently released results. And while gaming company Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that topped expectations, its weaker than expected outlook for the full year suggested the company did not expect its virus-related business boost to extend at the same rate through the second half of the year.

As of this week, each of the 50 states has seen at least some form of easing of stay-in-place orders. More than 1.5 million individuals were infected in the U.S. as of Wednesday, and the death toll crept above 93,000.

Longstanding concerns around the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact lingered. Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s late-April meeting released Wednesday showed that a number of officials felt the pandemic could have longer-lasting effects, with some judging “there was a substantial likelihood of additional waves of the outbreak in the near or medium term” potentially leading “to a protracted period of severely reduced economic activity.”

Still, market participants have mostly bet that the Fed, or Congress, would come to the rescue with additional stimulus in the event of further disruptions due to the pandemic.

On Thursday, market participants are poised to receive the Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report. This is expected to show another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits the week ended May 16, which would bring the total of new weekly jobless claims since the week ended March 20 to more than 38 million.

6:04 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open slightly higher

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:04 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 2,972.25, up 3.75 points (+0.13%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 24,548.00, up 29 points (+0.12%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 9,498.25, up 12.75 points (+0.13%)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 19: A person in protective face mask rents a Citibike on May 19, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 324,000 lives with infections of over 4.9 million people. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

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