U.S. stock futures edged higher Thursday ahead of fresh data that will show whether the labor market is recovering following a rise in Covid-19 infections over the winter.
Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked up 0.3%, indicating that the broad market gauge may post tepid gains after the New York opening bell, breaking two consecutive days of muted losses. Contracts linked to the technology-heavy Nasdaq-100 advanced 0.4%, and those tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.3% higher.
Continued progress toward passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus package in the U.S. is bolstering sentiment as investors expect it to further cushion the economic impact of Covid-19 lockdowns. While some data has shown signs of improvement in the labor market, investors expect elevated jobless claims figures to support the need for more stimulus.
Fresh data on applications for unemployment benefits are due at 8:30 a.m ET for the week ended Feb. 6. New applications were 779,000 in the prior week.
“There’s still obviously a significant number of jobs that have been lost, and there’s clearly a need for more fiscal support,” said Shoqat Bunglawala, head of multiasset solutions, international, at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “This element of further support on the fiscal side and yet more fiscal relief: that’s again an important element to continue to help the consumer.”