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US STOCKS-Futures near record highs as stimulus hopes build

Shriya Ramakrishnan
·2 min read

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Futures: Dow and Nasdaq up about 0.4%, S&P rises 0.3%

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

Dec 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures held near all-time highs on Friday as growing prospects for further economic stimulus and continued optimism over a COVID-19 vaccine-driven economic recovery lifted sentiment.

A bipartisan, $908 billion coronavirus aid plan gained momentum in the U.S. Congress on Thursday, after a months-long standoff between Republicans and Democrats over a stimulus package for businesses and millions of people affected by virus-led shutdowns.

A Labor Department's closely watched report, expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), is likely to show U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in six months in November, hindered by a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and a lack of more government relief money.

The unemployment rate is estimated to dip to 6.8% in November from 6.9% last month.

So far positive vaccine updates from major drugmakers have eclipsed bleak economic readings and a surge in infections, setting the Wall Street's main indexes for another week of gains after the benchmark S&P 500 clocked its best November.

Growing confidence that a working COVID-19 vaccine would be administered before the end of the year has revived demand for the hardest-hit airlines and tourism stocks.

Shares of U.S. carriers and cruise lines including American Airlines, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp were up between 2% and 3.3% in premarket trade.

At 06:25 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were up 120 points, or 0.4%, and S&P 500 E-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.31%. Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 44.75 points, or 0.36%.

Drugmaker Pfizer fell 0.8%, extending declines from the previous session when it flagged challenges in supply chain for raw materials used in its COVID-19 vaccine.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp rose about 1.5% each, boosted by a rise in crude prices as major producers agreed on a compromise on supply. (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)