Market Snapshot: Dow futures rise as China pledges to stimulate coronavirus-hit businesses

U.S. stock benchmarks on Wednesday were indicated modestly higher a day after the Nasdaq Composite eked out a record close, with investors taking some optimism from measures China says it has taken to help coronavirus-stricken businesses.

How are benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.31% rose 84 points, or 0.3%, at 29,295, those for the S&P 500 index ESH20, +0.30% climbed 9.45 points, or 0.3%, at 3,378.75, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.43% picked up 39 points to reach 9,675.50, a gain of 0.4%.

On Tuesday, the Dow DJIA, -0.56% shed 165.89 points, or 0.6%, to settle at 29,232.10, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.29% lost 9.87 points or 0.3% to close at 3,370.29. However, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.02% gained 1.57 points, or less than 0.1%, to finish at a record 9,732.74, after flipping positive only in afternoon trade.

What’s driving the market?

The market has been mostly trending upward but has also been attuned to developments related to coronavirus and the potential for slowing global economic growth due to disruptions to trade and travel caused by COVID-1, the infectious disease that originated in Wuhan, China late last year.

The rate of new cases has begun to ebb China officials have said, but the World Health Organization has recommended caution.

On Wednesday, investors also appeared heartened by comments from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which said Beijing would help companies to identify weak links in supply chains, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The assistance is one of several steps that Beijing and local Chinese authorities have taken to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus, which has sickened 75,200 people and claimed more than 2,000 lives. Help is focused on small and medium-size businesses in Hubei province and include temporary cuts to taxes, low-interest-rate loans for farmers and rent reductions for businesses, according to the South China Morning Post.

Looking ahead, investors will watch for cues from the Federal Reserve, which will release minutes from its policy meeting last week, where the central bank held benchmark rates at a 1.50%-1.75% range and said coronavirus would be monitored.

“COVID-19 remains the market driver and is set to frame policymakers’ reactions around the world over the near-term,” wrote Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, in a research report.

“The global economic outlook remains mired in uncertainty at this point in time, with coronavirus-related warnings emanating out of Apple and corporate America,” he said, referring to Apple Inc.’s warning on Monday, which weighed on stocks on Tuesday.

In U.S. economic reports, investors await a reading of produce prices for January and a reading of housing starts for the same month, all due to be released at 8:30 a.m.

Which Fed speakers are on deck
  • Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic is due to talk at 8 a.m.
  • Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester speaks at 8:30 a.m.
  • Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is due up at 11:10 a.m.
  • Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan speaks at 1 p.m.
  • Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Which stocks are in focus?
  • Garmin Ltd. GRMN, -1.08% shares rose after the company reported results that were better than expected.
  • Bausch Health Cos. Inc. shares BHC, +1.12% fell after reporting quarterly results.
How are other assets performing?

The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery CLH20, +1.33% rose 0.7% to $53.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold for April delivery GCJ20, +0.41% added 0.5% to reach 1,611.30 an ounce, extending its climb above the psychologically important level at $1,600.

The U.S. dollar DXY, +0.05% was little-changed against a basket of rival currencies at 99.48.

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.33% was trading flat at 1.56%. Bond yields fall when prices rise.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.63% advanced 0.6%, while the FTSE 100 UKX, +0.72% climbed 0.6%.

In Asia overnight, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.15% ended 0.2% lower to close at 4.051.31, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.32% edged down 0.3% at 2,975.40, and the Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.46% gained 0.5% to 27,655.81. The Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.89% rose 0.9% to 23,400.70.