U.S. stock futures point to gains on the last trading day of September

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U.S. stock futures rose on Thursday, the last trading day of September and the quarter, as investors awaited data including weekly jobless benefit claims as well as an appearance by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen appear before the House Financial Services Committee.  

Sentiment was also lifted by hopes that the government will avert a shutdown as the Thursday midnight deadline approaches for funding operations.

How are stock-index futures trading?

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 150 points, or 0.4%, to 34.414
  • S&P 500 futures rose 0.4% to 4,368
  • Nasdaq-100 futures climbed 0.5% to 14,807.75.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91 points, or 0.26%, to 34391, the S&P 500 increased 7 points, or 0.16%, to 4359, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 34 points, or 0.24%, to 14512.

What’s driving the market?

The quarter is shaping up to be a sluggish one for stocks, with the S&P 500 index looking at a quarterly gain of just 1.4% as of Thursday. The Nasdaq Composite, is barely higher for the quarter, while the Dow is slightly in the red. The S&P 500 is still up 16% for the year though.

Investors were getting some help from bond yields that eased again with the 10-year Treasury slipping 2 basis points to 1.524%. The U.S. dollar was in the spotlight as it continued to charge higher, up 0.2% to 94.49, a level that hasn’t been seen since in around a year.

Some easing of tensions on the U.S. political front could be giving stocks a lift. As a midnight deadline nears, Washington lawmakers are planning votes Thursday on a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government operating through early December.

On the data front, investors are waiting for weekly jobless benefit claims and a revision to second-quarter real gross domestic product, both due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The Chicago purchasing managers index for September is expected at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time.

And investors will hear from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell again, as he is set to testify to a House panel on COVID relief at 10 a.m. Eastern. Several other Fed officials, including Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic , Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will make appearances on Thursday.

Which companies are in focus?

  • Virgin Galactic Holding Inc. shares are up 8% in premarket trading, after the space-tourism company announced the end of an Federal Aviation Administration probe into its test flight with founder Richard Branson on board.
  • CarMax Inc. shares slid 9% in premarket trading after the car retailer reported a 4% drop in second-quarter net income to $1.72 a share, which fell short of Wall Street expectations.

How are other assets trading?

  • Oil futures eased back, with the U.S. benchmark dropping 0.7% to $74.28 a barrel, while international benchmark Brent slipped 0.2% to $77.91.
  • In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.2% and the FTSE 100 index rose 0.3%. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.3%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng index slipped 0.3% and China’s CSI 300 index rose 0.6%.
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