Stock Market

Dow futures head 150 points higher first session of 2021

Futures for the main equity benchmarks on Monday were climbing solidly in the first session in 2021, as investors focused on the positive factors that helped the market to close out last year at record highs: vaccine rollouts and fiscal aid packages.

How are stock benchmarks trading?
  • Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
    YMH21,
    +0.46%

    gained 148 points, or 0.5%, to reach 30,645.

  • S&P 500 index futures
    ESH21,
    +0.43%

    climbed 16.95 to reach 3,765.75, a gain of 0.5%.

  • Nasdaq-100 futures
    NQH21,
    +0.41%

    advanced 57.50 points, or 0.5%, at 12,943.

To end 2020, the markets finished at or near records: The Dow
DJIA,
+0.65%

added 1.4% in the final week of the year, 3.3% in December, 10.2% in the fourth quarter and 7.3% on the year. The S&P 500
SPX,
+0.64%

rose 1.4% this week, 3.7% in December, 11.7% in the fourth quarter and gained 16.3% this year.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+0.14%

put in its best annual return since 2009, rising 43.6% in 2020, aided by a 0.7% rise in the final week of 2020, a 5.7% in December, and a 15.7% in the final three months of last year.

What’s driving the market?

As was the case last year, investors were shaking off a dangerous spread of the COVID-19 to take equity markets higher in the first full trading day of the year, with a number of merger announcements also helping to spur early optimism on Wall Street.

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The global tally for confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose above 85 million on Monday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose above 1.8 million.

The rapid spread of a variant of the deadly pathogen that was first reported in Britain has caused some cause for concerns among public health experts but the market has thus far not reacted to the mutation of COVID-19.

The U.S. vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui on Sunday said that U.S. could increase its vaccine rollout by giving out half doses of the remedy developed by Moderna
MRNA,
-5.99%
.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is also keeping an eye on Georgia as runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats have the potential to inject volatility into markets that have thus far looked past political turbulence in Washington this year and focused on recent fiscal spending measures and easy-money policies out of the Federal Reserve.

Market participants say any complacency among investors could be misplaced, since if the Democrats win both senate seats, which could help President-elect Joe Biden reverse the corporate tax cuts of 2017, putting company earnings and stock prices under some pressure.

Bullishness on Wall Street also was partly attributed to manufacturing sector data in Asia and Europe that was better than expected, reflecting improvement from the stultifying levels of economic expansion prevalent during the pandemic, according to surveys of purchasing managers for December.

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U.S. manufacturers reports will be released at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. A report on construction spending is due at 10 a.m.

Investors also will watch for speeches from a number of Fed members, including Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will speak at an annual meeting on the post-pandemic economy hosted by economy post-pandemic the American Economics Association.

Which stocks were in focus?

Teledyne Technologies Inc.
TDY,
+0.23%

 plans to acquire Flir Systems Inc. 
FLIR,
+0.05%

 in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $8 billion.

Health care insurer Centene Corp. 
CNC,
+1.88%

 said Monday it has agreed to acquire Magellan Health Inc.
MGLN,
+0.58%

 for $95 a share, in a deal with an enterprise value of $2.2 billion.

Dentsply Sirona Inc.
XRAY,
+1.75%

 said Monday it has acquired Byte, a privately owned clear dental-aligner provider, in an all-cash deal valued at $1.04 billion.

Shares of U.K. gaming company Entain jumped after rejecting the proposed 1,383 pence per share bid from MGM Resorts
MGM,
+1.03%

that valued the company at £8.09 billion.

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