Stock futures rise with stimulus hopes, presidential debate in focus

Stock futures rose Friday to extend the major indices’ gains from a day earlier, as investors continued to eye upbeat commentary from officials around stimulus talks and considered the final presidential debate.

Gilead’s stock (GILD) jumped in early trading after the company’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment remdesivir became the first to receive formal approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug was used as part of President Donald Trump’s treatment following his COVID-19 diagnosis this month.

Meanwhile, shares of Intel (INTC) slid overnight after the company unexpectedly posted a quarterly decline in data center chip sales, driven by a near-halving of revenue from enterprise and government clients during to the pandemic. Shares of American Express (AXP) also declined, after the company reported third-quarter profit that missed consensus expectations.

During the regular session Thursday, the three major indices got a boost after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters in Washington that negotiators were “just about there” when it came to hashing out a deal for more virus-relief aid, stoking optimism that negotiators would manage to settle their differences and reach an agreement this week.

Officials on both sides of the aisle have recently struck a largely upbeat tone on the progress of stimulus negotiations. However, investors have been on edge over whether a deal would get done – and legislation actually passed – ahead of the November election. Just earlier this week, Pelosi had set a Tuesday deadline to come to an agreement with the White House, but later moved that goalpost out further and said she was eyeing a deal by the end of the week. And Senate Republicans have so far opposed passing a multi-trillion-dollar relief package, raising the specter that any major deal reached between House Democrats and the White House would ultimately get struck down.

Data earlier in the day underscored the extent of the economic damage with the coronavirus pandemic and lack of stimulus both still at play. While headline new jobless claims fell more than expected last week, another more than half-million Americans exhausted regular state benefits and rolled onto a longer-term unemployment compensation program, suggesting a large number of individuals put out of work earlier on during the pandemic were still unemployed.

7:22 a.m. ET: American Express posts 3Q earnings miss as business ‘continues to be significantly affected by the pandemic’

American Express on Friday posted third-quarter earnings of $1.30 per share, missing consensus estimates by 4 cents as the ongoing pandemic weighed especially hard on corporate card spending.

Revenue of $8.75 billion was down 20% over last year, but still better than the $8.63 billion expected. The company noted that it has seen a “steady recovery” in overall spending volumes.

“While our business continues to be significantly affected by the impacts of the pandemic, our third quarter results have increased our confidence that our strategy for managing through the current environment is the right one,” CEO Stephen Squeri said in a statement.

“In fact, we had positive year-over-year growth in non-T&E [travel and expense] spending, which has long accounted for our overall volumes,” he added. “While credit remains strong, with delinquencies and net write-offs at the lowest levels we have seen in a few years, we remain cautious about the direction of the pandemic and its impact on the economy, which is reflected in our reserve levels.”

Provisions for credit losses company-wide were down 24% for last year to $665 million as American Express released some reserves. The company did build reserves in its global commercial services business, where provisions were up 13% over last year to $250 million.

7:22 a.m. ET Friday: Stocks pace toward a higher open as stimulus talks remain in focus

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:22 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,458.00, up 8.75 points or 0.25%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 28,350.00, up 82 points or 0.29%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,670.50, up 20.75 points or 0.18%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.12 (+0.30%) to $40.76 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.30 (+0.44%) to $1,912.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.2 bps to yield 0.86%

6:07 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:07 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,454.5, up 5.25 points or 0.15%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 28,317.00, up 49 points or 0.17%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,674.50, up 24.75 points or 0.21%

A pedestrian with a mask walks past of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as markets continue to react to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the NYSE in New York, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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