Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures point to modest gains after powerful start to the week


U.S. stock futures edged higher on Wednesday, but the session hinted at more subdued gains following two powerful sessions driven by fading worries over the omicron variant of COVID-19.

How are stock-index futures trading?
  • S&P 500 futures ES00 rose 0.2% to 4,695
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YM00, +0.15% rose 0.1% to 35,761
  • Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, +0.36% rose 0.3% to 16,373

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.40% rose 492.4 points, or 1.4%, to 35,719.43, the S&P 500 index SPX, +2.07% advanced 95.08 points, or 2.1%, to 4,686.75 and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +3.03% jumped 461.76 points, or 3%, to 15,686.92.

What’s driving the market?

The Dow industrials have rallied over 1,100 points in the last two sessions, as investors have cheered up and hunted for bargains in the wake of selling after the new omicron variant in South Africa just after Thanksgiving.

“In theory, such strong gains are sign of instability and should be taken with caution, however the good news is that the volatility is easing, and the VIX index dropped 20% yesterday, meaning that the latest fears could slowly begin fading,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote in a note to clients.

GlaxoSmithKline’s GSK, +0.88% GSK, +1.48% assessment that its antibody treatment also appears to work against omicron, also cheered investors on Tuesday.

In the latest developments, a small study from South African scientists showed that the variant may partially evade vaccines, but vaccinations should still defend against more serious disease. Those doubly vaccinated with a previous COVID infection showed greater resistance to the variant, raising hopes that boosters may keep people safer, the study showed.

Also lifting markets lately is the perception that the Federal Reserve’s more hawkish tilt has been digested and priced in, said Ozkardeskaya, but the analyst and others remain wary.

“While the buy-everything trade will have its day in the sun for the rest of this week, some serious non-virus risk points are looming,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, told clients in a note. “Friday sees US CPI [consumer price inflation] and a print at or above 7.0% is going to raise the heat at next week’s FOMC.”

Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal are forecasting a CPI rise of 0.7%. That data comes ahead of Wednesday’s JOLTS job openings for October, which are expected to rise to 10.6 million from 10.4 million.

What companies are in focus?

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