Dow futures rise tepidly on Biden’s Inauguration Day

Dow futures rise tepidly on Biden’s Inauguration Day

The U.S. stock market was indicated slightly higher Wednesday as investors digested a clutch of corporate results and prepared for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. president.

How are stock benchmarks performing?
  • Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
    rose 58 points to reach 30,886, a gain of 0.2%.

  • S&P 500 index futures
    climbed 13.65 points, or 0.4%, to 3,804.25.

  • Nasdaq-100 futures
    were up 98.25 points to reach 13,083.75, a rise of 0.8%.

On Tuesday, stocks posted modest gains to start the holiday shortened week. The Dow
closed 116.26 points, or 0.4%, higher to end at 30,930.52, the S&P 500 index
gained 30.66 points, or 0.8%, closing at 3,798.91, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
advanced 198.68 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 13,197.18.

What’s driving the market?

Stocks are trading near record highs as Biden is scheduled to be sworn in at a scaled-down ceremony on Wednesday that begins at noon Eastern Time in Washington, ending a tumultuous four years under the Trump administration.

The incoming president has laid out plans for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes direct payments to Americans and funds set aside for testing and vaccine distribution, to help confront the economic shock from the deadly pandemic. However, he will likely face challenges getting his legislative agenda across the finish line with the Senate split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to provide the tiebreaker.

Biden also has a tall order of attempting to heal the country after riots on the Capitol two weeks ago rattled the nation. About 25,000 national troops are securing the incoming president’s inauguration event after supporters of Trump stormed the seat of government, resulting in the deaths of five people.

The former vice president’s outdoor address, according to reports, will emphasize the need for unity amid deep divisions in American politics.

Biden has already announced a number of executive orders to reverse some of Trump’s legislations, as a part of slate of executive orders intended to build momentum for his initiatives, including rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord. He also is ending bans on travel from 13 Muslim-majority and African nations.

Biden’s main focus, however, will be also combating the coronavirus pandemic, as the raging virus in the U.S. registered a grim milestone of 400,000 deaths Tuesday.

Read: Coronavirus tally: Global cases of COVID-19 top 96.2 million and U.S. has 401,777 fatalities

The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden will extend a pause on interest and principal payments for federal student loans until the end of September, keeping in place restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, and mandating the wearing of face masks on federal property and for interstate travel on airlines, trains and transit systems.

Outside of the inauguration, investors are parsing earnings reports from the likes of Netflix as well as those from Morgan Stanley, and Dow components UnitedHealth and P&G.

Which stocks are in focus?
  • Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc.
    rose in premarket trading Wednesday, after the health care services company reported a fourth-quarter profit that fell less than expected, while revenue rose above forecasts.

  • Procter & Gamble Co.
    sales surged in the most recent quarter, fueled in part by demand for high-end household products from pricey dish soap to a $300 electric toothbrush.

  • Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
    shot up 7.3% toward a more than 6-week high in premarket trading Wednesday, putting them on track for a fifth-straight gain, after co-founder Jack Ma made his first public appearance in nearly three months

  • Tyson Foods Inc.
     said Wednesday it has agreed to settle all class claims in its previously disclosed broiler chicken antitrust litigation and will pay an aggregate of $221.5 million in settlements.

  • Shares of renewable energy company Gevo Inc.
     slid in premarket trade Wednesday, after the company said it is selling $350 million of shares in a registered direct offering priced at-the-market

  • Netflix Inc.
    reported 8.5 million net new subscribers late Tuesday in its fourth quarter, a dramatic uptick from the 2.2 million reported in the previous quarter and well ahead of Netflix and analyst estimates.

  • Fastenal Co.
    said demand for equipment used to safeguard against the coronavirus gave it a boost in the fourth quarter.

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