Stock futures open flat, pausing after rally

Stock futures opened flat Monday evening as investors digested equities’ broad moves higher during the regular session.

The three major indices each closed more than 1% higher, and the Nasdaq rose for the first time in three sessions as tech stocks shook off last week’s jitters. Apple (AAPL) shares gained 3% and added to gains in late trading, paring some declines after losing 4.5% over the two sessions prior. The company is set to hold a virtual product launch event Tuesday morning, which is expected to focus on the Apple Watch. Information technology was the second best-performing sector in the S&P 500 on Monday, closely following the real estate sector.

“Last week was rough. I think markets are at a crossroad since we’ve gained so much since March. And the economic data’s been better, the health data has been encouraging, since cases are falling. But from a markets perspective, nothing is really decisive,” Tom Lee, head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker on Monday.

“I think investor are still torn, and I think that’s why they’re sticking with these tech stocks,” he added. “But I don’t think tech needs to roll over for cyclicals to work. I think for cyclicals to work, investors just need to be confidence that the good news on the economy is continuing. And then the cash comes off the sidelines and the sentiment which was really bearish turns positive, and I think that’s what fuels the rally into year-end.”

A slew of new deal-making activity helped contribute to a more risk-on session in markets. Nvidia announced the largest-ever chip industry deal to purchase SoftBank’s Arm unit, Gilead (GILD) unveiled its intent to purchase tumor-fighting drug-developer Immunomedics (IMMU) and Oracle (ORCL) confirmed it was in the running to become a “trusted technology provider” to ByteDance’s TikTok, edging out Microsoft (MSFT) for a tie-up with the fast-growing social media platform. Oracle – which will still need to undergo a US national security review and win approval from President Donald Trump for its partnership with TikTok to come to fruition – saw shares trade slightly lower in late trading, after closing 4.3% higher earlier in the day.

Tuesday will also mark the first of two days of meetings for the Federal Open Market Committee. The Federal Reserve will release its September monetary policy statement Wednesday afternoon, followed by a press conference with Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Both the statement and remarks are expected to reaffirm policymakers’ cautious tone on economic growth during the pandemic, and potentially lay the groundwork for more specifics on the central bank’s plan for forward guidance, following its newly announced policy framework around inflation announced at its annual symposium in late August.

“Given we just got a significant update from Fed Chair Powell at the annual Jackson Hole Symposium, the upcoming meeting should garner much less fanfare than usual,” RBC Capital Markets economists wrote in a note Friday. “Most of what Powell touched on at Jackson Hole was very forward-guidance driven. So we will hear about 1) more willingness to let inflation run above 2% (the inflation averaging provisions) and 2) letting the unemployment rate drift well below the natural rate in the future (the de-linking of employment and inflation that Powell promoted).”

“From our lens the recent tweaks are merely a concretization of an already active process,” they added.

6:05 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open little changed

Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 6:05 p.m. ET Monday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,382.75, up 0.25 points or 0.01%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 27,994.00, up 1 point or flat

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,295.00, up 14.5 points, or 0.13%

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 22: Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at the opening bell, August 22, 2018 in New York City. Today marks the longest bull market rally in U.S. history, stretching back to March 2009. The longest previous market rally was from 1990 to March 2000. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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