Stock futures ticked up just slightly after market close Thursday, holding onto gains after a regular-session rally sent the Nasdaq back into positive territory for the year to date.
Thursday’s jump was led by the Energy and Financials sectors, the two worst performers in the S&P 500 for 2020 so far. The at least temporary rally also extended into other industries that have deeply underperformed the broader market in 2020, with cruise line and some airline stocks rising on the day.
The equity advances came even as investors braced for a historically weak report on the state of the U.S. labor market set for release Friday. On Thursday, weekly unemployment insurance claims were shown to have totaled another nearly 3.2 million for the week ended May 2, bringing the cumulative number since the week ended March 20 to more than 33 million.
The U.S. Labor Department’s April jobs report set for release Friday morning is expected to show U.S. employers slashed 22 million payrolls for the month, by far the highest on record, according to data extending back to 1939. The unemployment rate is expected to jump to 16.0% from 4.4% in March, which would also be a record based on monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics data going back to 1948.
Investors have mostly taken the grisly economic data reported so far in stride, with much of it rendered already outdated as developments in the coronavirus pandemic and plans to reopen some businesses roll in by the day and offer hope of some respite from the shelter-in-place orders that have induced much of the economic damage.
“The prevailing sentiment seems to be one of optimism in response to the economic reopening, tempered by the lack of forward operating visibility and muted fears of a second wave of virus infections,” David Joy, Ameriprise chief market strategist, wrote in a note Thursday.
Market participants have also bet that policymakers will to continue providing support with further stimulus measures as needed to ensure businesses and financial markets are able to make it to the other side of the pandemic.
Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said during an NBC Today show interview Thursday that “we’re going to avert the kind of Depression scenario, because policy makers are going to continue to be aggressive to fight that outcome,” while acknowledging “we’re in for a long, gradual recovery.” And also on Thursday, Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, said in a Bloomberg TV interview that the U.S. Fed still has more tools to use to support economic activity.
6:08 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures tick up slightly
Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:08 p.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 1.5 points, or 0.05%, to 2,881.5
Dow futures (YM=F): up 27 points, or 0.11%, to 23,870.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 1.25 points, or 0.01%, to 9,109.00
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