U.S. Stocks May Open Higher On Vaccine Approval, Stimulus Hopes

Australian dollars in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

After closing mixed for two straight sessions, stocks are likely to move mostly higher in early trading on Monday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 243 points.

Early buying interest may be generated in reaction to news of the approval of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX).

The CDC signed off on the vaccine following the Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA. Pfizer has commenced the first shipments of the vaccine to distribution centers across the country.

Traders also remain optimistic about a new fiscal stimulus bill, with a report from Reuters detailing efforts to pass a previously unveiled $908 billion bipartisan relief plan.

A person briefed on the matter told Reuters the package will be split into two proposals that could be voted on separately in order to win approval.

Reuters said one bill would be a $748 billion measure including money for small businesses, the jobless and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, while the other would include more controversial measures such as liability protections for business and aid for state and local governments.

Nonetheless, trading activity may be somewhat subdued ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision on Wednesday.

The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged at near-zero levels, although traders are optimistic the central bank will announce additional stimulus measures.

Reports on industrial production, retail sales, homebuilder confidence and housing starts may also attract attention in the coming days.

Following the mixed performance seen during trading on Thursday, the major U.S. stock averages once again closed on opposite sides of the unchanged line on Friday. The Dow recovered from an early slide to close modestly higher, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 remained in negative territory.

While the Dow rose 47.11 points or 0.2 percent to 30,046.37 after falling by nearly 180 points in early trading, the Nasdaq dipped 27.94 points or 0.2 percent to 12,377.87 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.64 points or 0.1 percent to 3,663.46.

For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq slid by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, while the S&P 500 slumped by 1 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are jumping by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.73 to $47.30 a barrel after slipping $0.21 to $46.57 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, after rising $6.20 to $1,843.60 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $13.90 to $1,829.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 103.61 yen versus the 104.04 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.2163 compared to last Friday’s $1.2112.

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