Markets poised to open flat as traders focus on stimulus talks and presidential debate

Wall Street

Stock futures point to a muted start

U.S. stock futures suggested a lower open for Wall Street on Thursday as prospects of a new wave of fiscal stimulus fade and election jitters grow in the lead-up to tonight’s presidential debate.

By 5:50 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow were indicated 84 points, or 0.3% lower to 28,050. The S&P 500 futures were down 10.12 points, or 0.29% to 3,422.38 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 39.87 points, or 0.34% to 11,651.38.

President Donald Trump will face his Democratic challenger Joe Biden at 9 p.m. ET at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. In a statement released, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe announced that Iran and Russia had stepped up efforts to interfere in the U.S. election.

Meanwhile, discussions between House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to resume today, but there was growing talk of a vote after the Nov. 3 election.

Weekly jobless claims due

Traders are also awaiting weekly jobless claims data, which will be published by the U.S. Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Expectations are for initial jobless claims to come in at 860,000 in the week ended Oct. 17, down from 898,000 during the prior week. The number of initial claims has remained above 800,000 for several weeks since August as companies continue to struggle with reopening.

Continuing jobless claims are expected to drop to 9.625 million for week ended Oct. 10 from 10.018 million during the prior week.

Tesla surges after posting fifth straight quarterly profit

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) reported its fifth consecutive quarter of profitability late Wednesday in just the latest sign that the premier electric automaker has not been thrown off track by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The California-based company posted third-quarter earnings of $0.76 per share for the third quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.56 per share. Revenue grew 39% on a year-over-year basis to $8.77 billion. Analysts expected the company to announce revenue of $8.26 billion.

“This was achieved mainly through substantial growth in vehicle deliveries as well as growth in other parts of the business,” Tesla said in a press release.

Tesla stock was indicated $21.57, or 5.10% to $444.21 a share in Thursday’s pre-market trading session.

More earnings eyed

Today’s before-the-bell earnings include AT&T (NYSE: T), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL), and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC).

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Western Alliance (NYSE: WAL),  BJ’s Restaurants (NASDAQ: BJRI), and Capital One Financial (NYSE: COF) report after market close.