Stock futures fall as S&P 500 struggles to reach February record high

U.S. stock futures retreated early Friday morning as the S&P 500 struggles to break past its record high from February.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 119 points, or 0.4%. S&P 500 futures lost 0.2%. Nasdaq 100 futures were flat.

Airlines and cruise operators — two groups that would benefit from the economy reopening — slid in premarket trading. United Airlines dipped 0.8% and Delta was down 0.9%. American Airlines pulled back 1.4%. Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival dropped 1.4% and 2.2%, respectively. 

The S&P closed Thursday’s session down 0.2%. Earlier in the day, it briefly traded above its record closing high of 3,386.15. The gyrations between gains and losses through the day came as tech shares outperformed while names that would benefit from the economy reopening struggled.

Facebook, Netflix and Alphabet all closed higher and Apple rallied to an all-time high. Meanwhile, Gap and American Airlines both fell at least 1.8%. JPMorgan Chase slid 0.6%.

“The SPX’s negative reversal and its inability to make new highs today will receive many of the headlines. But the day’s intra-day sell off was much less severe than Tuesday’s,” Frank Cappelleri, executive director at Instinet, said in a note. He added Thursday’s fall “did little to alter [its] bullish patterns.”

If the S&P 500 breaks out for a fresh record, it would be the index’s fastest recovery from a 30% drop in its history, according to data compiled by Ned Davis Research. 

The S&P 500 remained 0.7% higher for the week despite Thursday’s decline. The broader market index has rallied more than 50% from an intraday low set March 23.

Stimulus talks

To be sure, sentiment was kept in check as lawmakers seem unable to move forward with a coronavirus stimulus bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she will not restart talks with Republicans on the matter until they increase their aid offer by $1 trillion. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow also told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the administration and Democrats were at a “stalemate.”

“Given the current fiscal stalemate, it is extremely unlikely that consumers receive any additional fiscal support in August. Needless to say, the outlook for September is highly dependent on fiscal policy,” said Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies, in a note.

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