Stock futures edge higher as the S&P 500 inches closer to a record

A pedestrian passes in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

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Stock futures were slightly higher early Tuesday after the S&P 500 once again failed to reach a record, a level set before the coronavirus crisis hit.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average implied an opening gain of about 60 points. S&P 500 futures and the Nasdaq 100 futures also traded marginally higher.

The S&P 500 closed Monday’s session up 0.3%, just shy of its record closing high of 3,386.15 on Feb. 19. The broad equity gauge has been flirting with its all-time high since last week. 

“Markets lack a catalyst to help markets overcome technical resistance,” Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research, said in a note. “The S&P 500 has seen its best 100-day move in history, and therefore embeds optimistic assumptions on the economic recovery and fiscal stimulus. These factors will need to surprise to the upside to drive markets materially higher.”

The S&P 500 has rallied more than 50% from its March bottom amid massive fiscal stimulus and better-than-feared earnings results. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite hit a new record close and intraday high during Monday’s trading, pushing its 2020 gains to 24%.

The market has been stuck in a tight range as hopes for a new coronavirus stimulus deal dimmed with lawmakers unwilling to break a stalemate. Democrats and Republicans are holding their respective presidential nominating conventions this week and next.

Senate Republicans plan to introduce a narrow coronavirus relief plan that also includes $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, NBC News reported Monday evening.

Meanwhile, tensions between the U.S. and China still kept investors on edge. The Trump administration announced on Monday it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei, aimed at cracking down on the Chinese telecom giant access to commercially available chips.

Investors will monitor earnings from retail heavyweights Home Depot, Walmart and Kohl’s on Tuesday before the bell to assess how the industry navigated the unprecedented disruptions from the pandemic. 

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