Stock futures rise amid strong Walmart and Home Depot earnings, S&P 500 on track for record close

Stock futures rose on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 on the cusp of exceeding its previous record high set in February before the coronavirus hit.

The S&P 500 closed Monday at 3,381.99, just a few points from its record close of 3386.15 set on Feb. 19 and 0.3% below its intraday record of 3393.52.

S&P 500 futures added 5.7 points, or 0.17%. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%. The move implied an opening gain of about 74 points. Nasdaq-100 futures added 0.3%.

Here’s what traders were watching Tuesday:

  • Home Depot shares gained 2.9% in premarket trading after the company said sales last quarter jumped 23% as consumers stuck in their homes increased do-it-yourself projects. Earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street expectations.
  • Walmart shares rose in premarket trading before the company’s quarterly results were set to be released.
  • 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.
  • Tesla shares jumped 5.5% in premarket trading to $1,937. The stock is set to split 5-for-1 later this month.

The broad equity gauge has been flirting with a new 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.

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.

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