Stock futures tick higher, extending gains

Stock futures opened higher Thursday evening, adding to gains after Wednesday’s session saw each of the S&P 500 and Dow climb more than 6%.

During the regular session, stocks ended higher for a third straight day as investors hoped a $2 trillion relief package passed by the Senate would help offset some of the economic damage dealt by the coronavirus outbreak. It was the first time the S&P 500 posted three consecutive sessions of advances since mid-February.

The House of Representatives is set to vote on the coronavirus economic relief package Friday.

Stocks’ gains during Thursday’s session, which came even after the U.S. Labor Department reported the largest number of new weekly unemployment claims on record, sent the Dow 1,351 points higher to settle above the 22,500 level – more than 20% above its recent closing low from March 23.

While policymakers around the world have stepped up their efforts to mitigate the economic blow from the virus, the pandemic itself has showed few signs of abating outside of China. Italy, one of the epicenters for the outbreak, reported its largest jump in new cases in the last five days, with new cases Thursday rising by 6,153.

Global cases of the coronavirus topped 526,000 as of Thursday evening, including 82,400 in the U.S, according to Johns Hopkins data. At that level, the number of cases in the U.S. topped those in China and Italy for the first time, and the domestic death toll from the outbreak surpassed 1,100.

As states across the country remain in or go into lock-down, President Donald Trump sent a letter to governors Thursday suggesting the White House was seeking to create guidelines for individual counties classified as either high, medium or low risk for the outbreak to expand further. Trump has said he wants the country to widely reopen businesses by Easter in mid-April, although health officials have suggested lifting stay-in-place orders by that time could be premature as the coronavirus case count continues to climb.

6:01 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures edge up as overnight session kicks off

Futures for each of the three major indices were slightly higher Thursday evening as Congress closed in on passing a $2 trillion economic relief package.

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 0.51%, or 13.25 points to 2,621.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): up 0.55% or 122 points to 22,470

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 0.31% or 24.25 points points to 7,868.25

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 08: Traders wait on a nearly empty trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after trading was halted due to a “technical glitch” on July 8, 2015 in New York City. Trading was to resume in the afternoon. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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