The stock market pointed to big gains at the start of the week as investors eyed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and advancing discussions surrounding a stimulus bill to help boost the ailing United States economy.
As of 9:00 a.m. ET, Dow futures rose 226 points, or 0.75%, while futures for the S&P and Nasdaq improved a respective 24.75 points, or 0.68%, and 46 points, or 0.37%. The three major indices were set to shake off the declines of last week, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 posted their first weekly descents in three weeks.
Today, doses of the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotechnology firm BioNTech are due to be administered to Americans following emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. About 2.9 million inoculations are shipping out this week as part of the initial batch, which will be distributed first to health-care workers as well as residents and workers in long-term care facilities. Essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions and people aged 65 and older are next in line for the vaccine.
The vaccine rollout is bolstering optimism that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases could be tempered in the coming months, leading governments to lift renewed stay-at-home orders and restrictions on nonessential business. Health authorities have expressed concerns about a further spread of the outbreak in the cooler months and holiday season, which could bring on more indoor gatherings and crowds at public places.
What’s more, U.S. lawmakers suggested that they were willing to compromise on the terms of a long-debated second sweeping stimulus. On Sunday, a bipartisan group of congressional leaders announced plans to split the $908 billion coronavirus-related relief package into two proposals: One measure would cost $748 billion, which would support small businesses through loans and unemployed Americans via jobless benefits, as well as back the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The other would provide $160 billion in state and local aid, plus include liability protections for businesses.
According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, more than 16.25 million people in the U.S. have been sickened by the novel coronavirus. At least 299,100 deaths have been recorded.