Dow futures little changed as index tries for fifth straight day of gains

A person walks at the Wall Street subway stop in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Stock futures were little changed in overnight trading on Wednesday as earnings season gets underway, giving investors a clearer picture of the overall health of corporate America.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4 points, pointing to a 20-point gain at Thursday’s open. S&P 500 futures fell 0.04%, while Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 0.4%.

Investors will monitor another batch of corporate earning results on Thursday, including from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

Earnings season kicked off on Monday, and so far results from the U.S.’ largest banks have been mixed. Goldman Sachs easily beat expectations when it reported earnings on Wednesday, helped by a 93% surge in trading revenue. JPMorgan Chase also reported better-than-expected results, while Wells Fargo posted a $ 2.4 billion loss and cut its dividend to 10 cents per share.

Johnson & Johnson, Charles Schwab, Abbott Labs and Domino’s Pizza will also report before the market opens on Thursday, while investors will be watching for Netflix’s second quarter earnings report after-the-bell.

June’s retail sales number will also be released on Thursday, with economists polled by Dow Jones expecting a 5.2% jump as the economy continued to reopen. May’s 17.7% surge blew past estimates and was the largest reading on record.

Stocks finished Wednesday’s session higher, fueled by positive news regarding a potential coronavirus vaccine, as well as strong earnings results from Goldman Sachs. The Dow rose 227.51 points, or 0.9%, in its fourth straight positive session. The 30-stock index crossed above the 27,000 mark for the first time in more than a month, although it wasn’t able to hold that level into the close, and finished the session at 26,870.10.

The S&P 500 rose 0.9%, while the Nasdaq Composite was the relative underperformer, rising just 0.5%. The tech-heavy index was weighed down by weakness in shares of Big Tech. Amazon slid more than 2%, while Netflix, Microsoft, and Alphabet also closed in the red as investors rotated out of these names and into sectors that are most sensitive to the economy’s reopening, such as cruise line operators.

Shares of Moderna finished the session 6.9% higher after data published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed the company’s coronavirus vaccine produced a “robust” immune response, or neutralizing antibodies, in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean each jumped more than 20% on Wednesday, while Carnival Corp. closed 16.2% higher.

With Wednesday’s gain the S&P 500 is now less than 5% away from recovering its February all-time high level, although some investors believe the the rally has run too far, too fast, given all the uncertainties that remain in the market.

“We are not out of the woods yet and are still far away from returning to pre-COVID-19 economic levels,” said Nate Fischer, chief investment strategist at Strategic Wealth Partners.

“The market is in need of a healthcare solution, as the economy was forced to shut down for a healthcare issue. So far, we’ve had fiscal and monetary assistance to this problem. Until a real medical remedy is found, the market will remain volatile,” he added.

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