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Contracts on the three major indices traded higher Monday morning, as investors looked ahead to a round of quarterly corporate earnings results that are expected to have improved relative to earlier this year. Stimulus talks in Washington also remained in focus.
Nasdaq futures rose more than 1% and outperformed against futures on the S&P 500 and Dow. Shares of Amazon (AMZN) jumped more than 1.5% in early trading a day before the start of the company’s annual Prime Day event, which typically brings in an influx of online shoppers eager to snap up promotions. Apple (AAPL) shares gained more than 2.8% as analysts struck an increasingly bullish tone ahead of the company’s iPhone 12 launch event on Tuesday, for an upgrade announcement Dan Ives of WedBush called “Apple's most important product cycle since the iPhone 6 in 2014,” according to a note on Sunday.
Prospects for further fiscal stimulus from congressional lawmakers will remain a point of interest for traders, though the likelihood of measures getting passed before the election is slim. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to pick up further talks on a deal this week, though little tangible progress had been made as of last week and the last several months. Still, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow offered an upbeat assessment of talks between the White House and House Democrats on Sunday, saying “the bid and offer is narrowing somewhat between the two sides,” according to an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Third-quarter corporate earnings season begins in earnest this week with a host of big banks reporting results, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) on Tuesday. The cohort, which has for the year to date sharply underperformed against the broader market, with changes in banks’ loan loss provisions and commentary around the health of their clients likely to shed light on the extent of the ongoing strain in the US economy.
Across earnings season as a whole, companies are expected to report another year-over-year decline in profits amid the ongoing pandemic, albeit at a margin narrower than in the second quarter. Consensus economists are looking for S&P 500 companies to post an aggregate earnings per share decline of 20.5% over last year, according to FactSet data as of Friday.
Earnings this quarter come at the junction of a number of potentially market-moving events, including the possibility of a vaccine breakthrough and uncertain results of the elections. These latter two events pose the potential to meaningfully alter fundamentals for S&P 500 companies, and shift the outlook that companies may report in their results, Goldman Sachs analysts noted.
“New information on the election, vaccines, and upcoming 3Q earnings represent substantial cross-currents for equities during the next two months,” Goldman Sachs analyst David Kostin said in a note. “However, the vaccine represents a more important factor than the election result for the recovery in S&P 500 fundamentals.”
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