Stocks poised to open higher, buoyed by vaccine rollout and stimulus hopes


Futures point to a positive open

U.S. stock futures were pointing to moderate gains for Wall Street on Tuesday as traders cheered the rollout of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE)’s coronavirus vaccine across the country and negotiations on another round of stimulus to tackle the economic fallout from the virus.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of centrist members of Congress presented new fiscal stimulus compromise worth $748 billion in a bid to fuel a final push for economic relief this year.

The plan calls for in spending for programs that are popular on both sides of the aisle, including another $300 billion for more loans under the Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits.

As of 5:50 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow edged 158.5 points, or 0.53% higher to 29,939.5. Those for the S&P 500 gained 21.12 points, or 0.58% to 3,661.12 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures added 51 points, or 0.41% to 12,513.5.

Traders eye last Fed meeting for 2020

Today, the market’s focus once again turns to the officials of the U.S. Federal Reserve who will kick off their FOMC meeting to set the nation’s monetary policy for the last time this year.

Some analysts believe that even though the Fed is unlikely to announce any major surprises, it will probably stress the need for additional fiscal measures to mitigate the threat of a double-dip recession.

Since June, the central bank has been buying $80 billion of Treasury bonds and $40 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities each and has pledged to maintain that policy “over the coming months” to help the economy recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank also hinted in September that interest rates would likely remain at their current near-zero level through 2023.

FDA weighs Moderna vaccine

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to publish data on the effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), an important step before the regulator decides on emergency use before the end of the week.

An FDA advisory panel will consider the vaccine, with the FDA expected to decide on emergency use authorization as early as Friday.

Once the regulator approves the vaccine, the U.S. government plans to ship just under 6 million initial doses, which is more than double the 2.9 million that were shipped by Pfizer this week.

More than 193,000 new coronavirus cases and over 1,400 deaths were reported across the U.S. on Monday.