Stock Futures Climb After S&P 500 Hits Record

04/08/2021 | 03:15am

By Anna Hirtenstein

U.S. stock futures rose Thursday, pointing to another record-setting trading session after the opening bell, as investors awaited data on unemployment benefits and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 climbed 0.4%. The broad market index closed at its 18th record for this year on Wednesday. Nasdaq-100 futures advanced 0.8%, pointing to gains in technology stocks.

Stocks have started the second quarter on strong footing, with the S&P 500 rising 2.7% this month. The largest tech companies have surged ahead as the bond market calmed, easing concerns about the high valuations of growth stocks. Fed policy makers' comments, released on Wednesday, highlighted their intention to continue with easy monetary policies until the economy has recovered more.

"The dynamic remains supportive for stocks," said Adrien Pichoud, a portfolio manager and chief economist at SYZ Private Banking. "The Fed and central banks in general are perceived to be in no rush to raise rates."

The latest data on jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, are likely to add to evidence that layoffs are easing as an economic revival gathers force. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect worker filings for initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, to have fallen to 694,000 last week, from 719,000 the prior week.

At 12 p.m., Mr. Powell will be speaking about the global economy at the International Monetary Fund's virtual spring meetings.

In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was relatively unchanged from 1.653% on Wednesday. It had climbed as high as 1.749% at the end of last month. Yields rise when bond prices fall.

The cooling off in bond yields has led to a revival in the largest technology stocks' rally. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google's parent Alphabet -- which are the largest companies by market value on the S&P 500 -- have each climbed over 4% this month after stumbling in March.

"We consider bond yields to be close to the top, so one of the barriers to tech has begun to come down," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. "If there ever was going to be a test for tech, it would be this environment, with rising bond yields and the work-from-home trade starting to fade, but tech has remained really resilient in the face of that."

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 ticked up 0.3%.

The European Central Bank will release the minutes from its last policy meeting at 7:30 a.m. The notes of policy makers' comments are expected to reflect views similar to the Fed's on a continuation of loose monetary policy, according to Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for the eurozone at Dutch bank ING.

"However, this can change very quickly once the recovery becomes more sustainable," Mr. Brzeski said.

In Asia, most major benchmarks climbed. The Shanghai Composite Index added less than 0.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.2%.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-08-21 0515ET

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