Dow Futures Rally On Stimulus Hopes, COVID Vaccine Progress: DoorDash IPO in Focus

The S&P 500 could notch its 30th closing high of the year Wednesday as global stocks rally on hopes for a stimulus deal breakthrough in Washington and the anticipated FDA approval of the Pfize/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
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The Wednesday Market Minute

  • Global stocks resume rally, with fresh record highs in sight for Wall Street, amid renewed optimism on stimulus talks and coronavirus vaccine progres.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin offers late-hour deal to Democrats, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says any bill must include unemployment benefit payments.
  • FDA backing for Pfizer vaccine boosts hopes of EUA approval on Thursday as rollout in Britain continues and global infections top 15 million.
  • DoorDash prices $38 billion IPO at $102 per share, with trading to begin later this morning; Airbnb, which boosted its target earlier this week, should formalize its pricing later today.
  • U.S. equity futures point to a firmer open on Wall Street with market focus on stimulus talks in Washington and JOLTS jobs data at 10:00 am Eastern time.

U.S. equity futures bumped higher Wednesday, with both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq eyeing fresh record highs, as progress in stimulus talks between lawmakers in Washington, as well as the anticipated rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the coming days, lifted stock markets around the world. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, largely sidelined from stimulus talks since before the election, returned to the table late Tuesday with a new offer from the White House -- backed by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell -- that could find agreement from Democrat leaders before the end of the week.

The $916 bill put forward, however, doesn't include a specific payment of benefits to the more than 10 million Americans still out of work from COVID crisis, sticking point the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said must be included in order for it to receive Democratic support.

Progress of any kind, however, was seized upon by investors looking for one last leg higher into the end of the year, a move that could be precipitated by the Food & Drug Administration's emergency use approval of the Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report/BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report vaccine on Thursday and its rollout in the days that follow.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is up 5.7% for the year, suggest a 97 point opening bell gain while those linked to the S&P 500, which has risen 2.23% so far this month and closed at its 29th record high for the year last night, are indicating an 8 point advance ahead of the debut of food delivery group DoorDash  (DASH) - Get Report, which begins trading later today after pricing its $38 billion IPO at $102 per share.

Nasdaq Composite futures. meanwhile, are priced for a more modest 10 point gain after last night's record close, the 49th of the year.

Markets could still be upended by a collapse in Brexit talks, however, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prepare for their latest 'make-or-break' meeting later this evening in Brussels as Britain's exit from the bloc looms in just over three weeks.

Rising coronavirus infections, which passed 215,000 in the United States yesterday, could also unsettle investors as lockdowns in California, and newly-mulled restrictions in New York, trigger deeper potential job losses and further economic weakness.

European stocks are firmly focused on the positive, however, with the Stoxx 600 rising 0.52% in Frankfurt, even as the euro jumped to 1.2130 against a weaker U.S. dollar, while Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.57% thanks in part to an overnight rally in commodity stocks.

That rally was reflected in oil markets, where Brent crude neared the $50 mark amid a softer U.S. dollar and renewed demand bets linked to vaccine progress in both Europe and the United States. Gains were capped, however, by data from the American Petroleum Institute which showed a surprise 1.4 million barrel increase in domestic crude stocks last week. Official data from the Energy Department is due at 10:30 am Eastern time.

WTI crude futures contracts for January delivery, the U.S. benchmark, traded 45 cents lower from their Tuesday close in New York and were changing hands at $46.05 per barrel in early European dealing, while Brent contracts for February delivery, the new global benchmark, added 45 cents to $49.29 per barrel.

Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei 225 added 1.3% to close within touching distance of a 30 year high of 26,817.94 points, thanks in part to a 7% surge in SoftBank shares following a report from Bloomberg that the Masayoshi Son-lead tech group is mulling a move to go private.