U.S. equity futures edged higher Friday, while the dollar retreated to a three-week low and oil prices slipped, as investors consolidated gains from the best week on Wall Street since mid-summer and braced for what could be a game-changing series of events in the coming days.
With markets still clinging to hopes that House Democrats and their Republican rivals in the Senate can reach an agreement on a coronavirus relief bill in the final three weeks before the November Presidential elections, the S&P 500 has gained around 2.9% so far this week, building its advance around solid corporate sales updates, progress in coronavirus vaccine development and modestly improving jobs numbers.
The third quarter earnings season will unofficially kick-off next week with profit updates from Wall Street’s biggest banks, with Amazon Prime Day, Apple’s iPhone unveiling and an on-again, off-again Presidential debate set to dominate the calendar in what could be a game-changing week for both the candidates and the broader U.S. market.
Friday’s session, however, looks positive, with futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a 160 point opening bell gain and those linked to the S&P 500, which is up 6.7% for the year, pricing in a 21 point advance.
European stocks were on the march, as well, and looking at back-to-back weekly gains even as coronavirus infection rates in some of the region’s biggest economies — including France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom — are spiking at record rates amid the cooler autumn weather.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.53% to a three-week low of 93.281 against a basket of six global currencies in overnight trading, a move that could help boost near-term gains for stocks, while benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields continue to trade in a new-found range of 0.777% following a week of successful auctions that included $110 billion on new supply for the market.
Oil prices also slipped lower in the early Friday session as traders booked profits from a week-long rally that lifted crude prices more than 10% and took WTI past the $40 per barrel mark.
Gulf of Mexico outages from Hurricane Delta, an ongoing oil workers’ strike in Norway and improving demand dynamics in the U.S. have all added to gains this week, and several analysts are pointing to a fourth-quarter crude rally that could take prices closer to $50 by the end of the year.