Market Snapshot: Dow, S&P 500 aim for back-to-back gain, but on track for weekly loss

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Futures contracts for equity benchmarks were rising modestly Friday, aiming to mark a second day of gains in a choppy week of trade that continues to be marked by concerns about Federal Reserve policy in the face of rising inflation in the economy’s COVID recovery.

Investors will be looking for further inputs on the health of the economy, with flash Markit purchasing managers index surveys due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern and a report on existing home sales due at 10 a.m.

How are stock benchmarks performing?

For the week, the Dow

is down 0.9%, on track to see its fourth weekly loss out of the past five. The S&P 500

is 0.4% lower on the week, on pace for its second weekly decline, while the Nasdaq Composite

is up 0.8%, set to snap a 4-week losing streak, as pf Thursday’s close.

What’s driving the market?

U.S. markets were looking at a light day of data to end another tumultuous week for stocks, with flash readings on manufacturing and services activity on tap.

Flash economic readings in the U.S. will come after the eurozone purchasing managers composite output index for the region climbed to a 39-month high at 56.9, with the services index at a 35-month high, while the manufacturing PMI slipped to a two-month low at 62.8.

The broader market was rattled on Wednesday as the nascent crypto market sold off and as investors digested a reading of minutes from the Fed that raised the specter of the central bank at some point ending its accommodative asset purchases.

Investors will look to hear more from Fed speakers, with Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly due to speak on Friday. Kaplan, in an interview with MarketWatch earlier this month, advocated for beginning a conversation about the central bank’s taking its foot off the gas in its support for the economy. Daly has said it is too soon to begin such discussions.

Some investors and strategists are warming to the idea of pricing pressures in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic being temporary, which has been attributed to some of the rebound in areas of the market that would be harmed by a rapid surge in inflation.

“The idea of temporary inflation seems to be creeping into the minds of the financial community, helping to calm interest in commodities,” wrote Alex Kuptsikevich, senior market analyst at FxPro.

“Furthermore, we see politicians in different parts of the world engaging in their ways to combat the inflation threat,” the analyst wrote, in a research note.

On the public health front, the number of global deaths caused by the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 is likely far higher than official numbers suggest, the World Health Organization said Friday.

“Based on the excess mortality estimates for 2020, the 3.4 million deaths currently reported to WHO are likely a significant undercount, with true figures at least 2-3 times higher,” said the report.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Deere & Co. DE rose in premarket trading Friday, after the construction, agriculture and turf-care equipment maker reported fiscal second-quarter profit and revenue that rose well above expectations, while warning that supply-chain pressures will increase through the rest of the year.

  • VF Corp. VFC shares fell in Friday premarket trading after the outdoor and activity-based apparel company reported fourth-quarter profit that missed expectations. 

  • Shares of Foot Locker Inc. FL ran up in premarket trading Friday, after the athletic shoe and apparel retailer reported big fiscal first-quarter profit and same-store sales beats, while saying it will reposition its store fleet to focus growth in its iconic banners. 

  • Shares of Yalla Group Ltd. YALA shot up in premarket trading Friday, to bounce off a four-month closing low, after the voice-centric social networking platform in the Middle East and North Africa announced a $150 million stock repurchase program. The buyback program comes as the company continued to dispute recent allegations by short sellers.

  • BioNTech‘s BNTX, chief executive has said that the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with U.S. pharmaceutical group Pfizer PFE, is likely to be effective against the Indian variant of coronavirus.