Futures edge higher ahead of weekly jobless claims data

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday as investors counted on more pandemic relief and speedy vaccine rollouts under the new Biden administration to aid the economic recovery while awaiting a reading on weekly jobless claims.

FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in the financial district of New York, U.S., January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Labor Department’s data is expected to show that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dipped in the latest week but remained well above the 900,000 mark, likely due to a relentless surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.

President Joe Biden is expected to launch an array of initiatives in his initial days in office, including ramping up testing and vaccine rollouts.

Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday and Republicans in the Congress signaled a willingness to work on Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that would enhance jobless benefits and provide direct checks to households.

Wall Street’s main indexes ended at record highs in the previous session, when Biden took office, with the S&P 500 clocking in a 14% rise since the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Gains during the period were centered around economy-linked stocks to shares of solar-powered companies.

However, stock market valuations are near a 20-year high and investors are wary of the fuel left in trades betting on his policies. Corporate results could present an important test of whether the rally has run ahead of fundamentals.

At 06:43 a.m. EST, Dow E-minis were up 43 points, or 0.14%, S&P 500 E-minis were up 6.75 points, or 0.18%. Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 47.5 points, or 0.36%.

United Airlines Holdings Inc dropped about 2% in premarket trade after posting a fourth straight quarterly loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic but said it aims to cut about $2 billion of annual costs through 2023.

Ford Motor Co added about 3% and was set to extend gains for a second straight day after Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the U.S. automaker’s stock.

(Corrects paragraph 10 to show Deutsche Bank raised its price target on Ford’s stock on Wednesday, not Thursday. Also corrects syntax in paragraphs 1 and 2)

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