Stock futures point to a higher open

Stock futures rose Tuesday morning, setting up the three major indexes to recover some of Monday’s losses.

Equities fell at the start of the week to give back some of last week’s record-setting advances. Twitter (TWTR) shares stabilized in pre-market trading after closing at a one-month low, after the company banned President Donald Trump from the platform and stirred up concerns over increased regulatory scrutiny and impacts to user growth. Heavily weighed peer tech stocks including Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) also steadied in pre-market trading after dropping on Monday.

Traders have been assessing the path forward for the stock market, weighing the additional stimulus that will likely come to fruition under a unified Democratic government against the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country. Fifty percent of the U.S. population will likely receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May, Goldman Sachs economists said in a note Monday.

“I think [Monday was] a little bit of profit-taking. Obviously you had a nice move last week with the Democratic sweep scenario, higher expectations of stimulus. But you are seeing a stronger dollar today, higher long-term rates, and I think that’s weighing on market sentiment,” ClearBridge investment strategist Jeffrey Schulze told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “Positioning and optimism are pretty stretched right now – if you look at the put-call ratio from last month, we had seen lower levels that we haven’t seen in two decades. Look at all the optimism surveys, there’s rampant bullishness that’s out there, record margin debt balances right now.”

“I think the markets are a little extended,” he added. “It wouldn’t surprise me if you saw a little consolidation here over the next couple of weeks, somewhere in the 5% range. But I do think that this is going to be a buying opportunity for a … very strong economic growth picture you’re going to see in 2021.”

A number of other strategists have also alerted that a near-term pull-back in the stock market may occur, especially following 2020’s double-digit year and extended run-up into the beginning of 2021. However, as caution over a near-term dip or correction grows to become the consensus, some other strategists have encouraged taking the opposite view.

“Widespread speculation of an imminent stock market bubble, not to mention calls for a potential sharp correction in the first half of 2021, only to be followed up by strength during the second half, represents excessively consensus thought by most clients we speak with, which only makes us want to go the other way,” BMO Capital Markets strategist Brian Belski said in a note Monday.

“As such, we believe the first part of 2021 will be much stronger than most investors are imagining, helped along by a larger-than-anticipated stimulus package by the new administration that could be used to justify much more aggressive pandemic-fighting strategies — including, but not limited to, coordinated regional or even a nationwide shutdown,” he said.

9:02 a.m. ET: ‘The corporate sector is set for its own spending binge’: Jefferies

S&P 500 companies have an abundance of dry powder available this year, which could spark a wave of additional capital expenditures, dividends, buybacks and mergers and acquisitions, according to Jefferies.

“S&P 500 companies ended 2020 with record amounts of cash as a percentage of total assets,” Jefferies equity strategist Sean Darby said in a note Tuesday. “U.S. companies raised their largest ever cash from bond and equity markets last year. Investment credit spreads are at near record lows. While everyone is frothing over the Democrats’ potential stimulus program, the corporate sector is set for its own spending binge.”

The big question, however, is where the excess cash should be put to use. According to Jefferies, the most likely candidate would be on research and development, equipment and capital expenditures.

“The [Democratic] victory has made it a little more complicated since the corporate tax rate will certainly increase – probably from 2022 – while share buybacks in the midst of the pandemic might be politically difficult,” Darby said. “The easiest and simplest choice might be R&D, equipment and capital equipment investment”

“While investors want to be positioned for the Democrat stimulus beneficiaries, it might be better to play capex-spending recipients and those who can ‘manage’ the balance sheet since this tends to be a ‘longer cycle,’” he added.

7:15 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures point to a higher open

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:15 a.m. ET Tuesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,803.5, up 11.5 points or 0.3%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,981.00, up 79 points or 0.26%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,946.75, up 49.75 points or 0.39%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.74 (+1.42%) to $52.99 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.20 (+0.44%) to $1,859.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +2.7 bps to yield 1.161%

6:05 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open flat

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

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,791.75, down 0.25 points or 0.01%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,902.00, flat

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,905.00, up 8 points or 0.06%

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is pictured on April 20, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street opened lower on Monday as traders grappled with a drop in oil prices to 22-year lows as the coronavirus pandemic sapped demand for energy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent to 23,798.01 about 10 minutes into the trading session.The broad-based S&P 500 had declined 1.3 percent to 2,835.08, while the tech-rich Nasdaq had fallen 0.7 percent to 8,588.66. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

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