Stock futures tracked toward a third straight day of losses Thursday as investors weighed rising COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and increased restrictions against hopes for an effective vaccine.
For the past few days, the bad outweighed the good. On Wednesday, the Dow posted its biggest loss in three weeks, dropping nearly 350 points, or 1.2%, amid more signs of deterioration in the battle to keep COVID-19 cases at bay. New York City, home to the largest public school system in the country, is set to suspend in-person schooling starting Thursday, as the rate of infections in the city hit 3%.
Average daily cases in the U.S. have held above 150,000 over the past seven days, for a level worse than even the initial virus surge in April. And on Wednesday, total virus-related deaths in the U.S. crossed the grim milestone of 250,000.
Positive news on the vaccine front did little to assuage investors. Pfizer (PFE) said its final clinical trial data showed its vaccine candidate was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, and that the company intends to file for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration within days.
Still, even with approval, distribution of a vaccine likely won’t occur en masse for months, meaning social distancing and restrictions will remain the primary tools for combatting transmission through the latest spike in cases. The worsening pandemic, coupled with uncertainty over final results of the Senate elections and size and contents of another round of fiscal stimulus, has created a host of near-term risks.
“The market has really been in a celebratory mode since Election Day and rode through it again last week. I think the idea now is people are beginning to consider taking some profits ahead of expectations that taxes related to capital gains could rise in 2021. I also think there’s the consideration of the transition in COVID to post-COVID,” John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist for Oppenheimer, told Yahoo Finance. “Even with the resurgence, all the vaccine news tells us [is] there is a post-COVID ahead.”
7:20 a.m. ET: Macy’s stems sales decline in 3Q as in-store sales begin to recover
Macy’s (M) posted a shallower sales decline than expected in the third quarter and narrowed its losses, as in-store shopping and digital sales each improved during the quarter.
Owned plus licensed comparable same store sales fell 20.2% over last year, or better than the about 23% drop expected, according to Bloomberg consensus data. This also improved sequentially from the company’s nearly 35% sales slump in the second quarter. Its adjusted loss per share of 19 cents was better than the 79-cent loss per share anticipated.
“Customers shopped our brands across all channels in the third quarter and responded well to our expanded fulfillment offerings, such as curbside, store pickup and same-day delivery,” CEO Jeff Gennette said in a statement. “Our digital business delivered strong growth and sales in our stores continued to recover.”
He added that customers have shifted their spending to casual apparel and other categories conducive to spending more time at home. Home furnishings and jewelry and fragrances grew sales by double-digit percentages over last year.
7:14 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures hold lower, pointing to third straight day of selling
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:14 a.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,561.25, down 3.75 point or 0.11%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,335.00, down 56 points or 0.19%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,867.25, down 29.75 points or 0.25%
Crude (CL=F): -$0.41 (-0.98%) to $41.41 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$13.30 (-0.71%) to $1,860.60 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.3 bps to yield 0.859%
6:02 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open lower
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:02 p.m. ET Tuesday evening:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,564.00, down 1 point or 0.03%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,399.00, up 8 points or 0.03%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,883.25, down 13.75 points or 0.12%