Futures edge higher after Trump signs virus relief orders

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were in a flat-to-slightly higher range on Monday as markets looked to executive orders from President Donald Trump over the weekend to support the economy until more concrete stimulus could be passed.

The orders, aimed at unemployment benefits and evictions, came after negotiations broke down between the White House and top Democrats in Congress over new stimulus steps to help the world’s largest economy combat the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday they were open to restarting aid talks.

With total infections in the country crossing five million and recent data suggesting that an economic recovery was stalling, markets had few positive cues to trade on.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing were also at play, after Trump signed executive orders last week banning major Chinese technology firms in 45 days’ time while announcing sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

Still, a better-than-expected earnings season and hopes of more stimulus put the S&P 500 within a percent of a record high, while the Nasdaq (IXIC) scaled several peaks as its major technology constituents benefited from the pandemic.

At 6:14 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were up 100 points, or 0.37%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.15% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 4.75 points, or 0.04%.

Among individual movers, Eastman Kodak Co (N:KODK) plunged 44.3% premarket after its $765-million loan agreement with the U.S. government to produce pharmaceutical ingredients was put on hold due to “recent allegations of wrongdoing.”

Marriott International Inc (O:MAR) dropped about 2% and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (N:RCL) fell 0.6% ahead of their quarterly reports.

The No. 1 U.S. mall owner Simon Property Group (N:SPG) rose 4.5% after a report that it has been in talks with Amazon.com Inc (O:AMZN) about turning some of its department-store sites into Amazon fulfillment centers.

Simon is expected to post its smallest quarterly profit in nearly six years after markets close on Monday.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc (N:BRKb) on Saturday announced a $9.8-billion writedown and 10,000 job losses at its Precision Castparts aircraft parts unit. However, its shares rose 1.2% as its second-quarter net income surged 87%.