Futures at record levels on fiscal aid relief, vaccine optimism

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks by 14 Wall Street, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in the financial district of New York, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures scaled all-time highs on Tuesday as bets that fiscal aid will speed up a vaccine-led recovery in the economy boosted sentiment in the final days of the year.

At 06:34 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis rose 129 points or 0.43%, S&P 500 E-minis gained 16 points or 0.43% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis added 46.25 points or 0.36%.

Wall Street’s main indexes ended at all-time highs on Monday, with pandemic-battered stocks leading the gains after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a long-awaited $2.3 trillion fiscal bill, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown.

Unprecedented monetary as well as fiscal stimulus and positive vaccine data have helped the S&P 500 recover from a virus-led crash in March.

The benchmark index is looking at its best fourth-quarter performance since 2011 as investors returned to economically-sensitive stocks from the so called ‘stay-at-home’ plays on hopes of economic recovery.

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a proposal to increase the COVID-19 payment checks to $2,000 from $600, sending the measure for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday, where it faces a much tougher path for approval.

Trading volumes is expected to remain light in a historically strong final week for equities, with worries over mutating coronavirus strain and upcoming U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia posing as short-term concerns.

Shares of planemaker Boeing Co added 0.6% in pre-market trade as American Airlines was set to restart U.S. 737 MAX commercial flights on Tuesday morning.

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