U.S. Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading

Following the advance seen in the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 24 points.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets after yesterday’s climb to record closing highs.

Optimism about a new fiscal stimulus bill contributed to the strength on Thursday, although traders may be waiting for more concrete developments before continuing to push stocks higher.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said an agreement on a new relief package appears to be “close at hand” and suggested lawmakers are likely to work through the weekend to reach a deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also told reporters that progress has been toward an agreement, mirroring other recent optimistic comments from congressional leaders.

Upbeat news on the coronavirus vaccine front may help support the markets, with an FDA advisory panel giving a positive recommendation to Moderna’s (MRNA) vaccine candidate.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said the first late-stage trial for its vaccine candidate is now fully enrolled, with the healthcare giant expecting interim data by late January.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of November. The leading economic index is expected to rise by 0.5 percent.

After moving to the upside early in the session, stocks remained firmly positive throughout the trading day on Thursday. With the upward move on the day, the major averages all reached new record closing highs.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq saw further upside going into the close, reaching a new high for the session. The Dow rose 148.83 points or 0.5 percent to 30,303.37, the Nasdaq advanced 106.56 points or 0.8 percent to 12,764.75 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.31 points or 0.6 percent to 3,722.48.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, most European stocks have moved to the upside on the day. The German DAX Index is up by 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent, although the French CAC 40 Index has bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are inching up $0.06 to $48.42 a barrel after climbing $0.54 to $48.36 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after spiking $31.30 to $1,890.40 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging up $0.70 to $1,891.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 103.32 yen versus the 103.11 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2251 compared to yesterday’s $1.2268.

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