BY AMBAR WARRICK AND MEDHA SINGH
Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open higher on Monday as retailers prepared to wind down a better-than-feared quarterly earnings season, while investors continued to watch for the S&P 500 to breach record-high levels.
The benchmark S&P 500 ended Friday about 0.4% below a record closing high hit in February after flirting with that level for the most of last week as a clutch of data pointed to a wobbly recovery for the world’s biggest economy.
“It goes back to the basic factor – with interest rates low, next to zero even though yields have gone up, there is no place to put your money so stocks continue to hover near record highs,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
“I am not sure if we can (hit a record high) today because up until now there’s no particular news that would spark a strong rally.”
Figures this week are likely to show another jump in housing starts, as certain facets of the economy slowly ground back from a pandemic-driven trough.
Home improvement chains such as Lowe’s Companies Inc and Home Depot Inc are expected to have received a bump to sales from consumers looking to do minor repair work while spending more time at home due to the pandemic.
The retailers, along with Walmart Inc, Kohls Corp, and Target Corp rose between 1.1% and 2% premarket ahead of their quarterly earnings reports later in the week.
As of Friday, 457 companies in the S&P 500 had posted results, of which 81.4% came in above dramatically lowered expectations, according to Refinitiv data.
Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, due on Wednesday, are expected to provide more insight into the central bank’s view of the recovery.
Investors are also girding their portfolios for market moves ahead of the U.S. presidential vote, as the election season kicks into higher gear with the Democratic National Convention, which runs Monday through Thursday.
The Republican convention will be held from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 and both will be mostly virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At 8:22 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 75 points, or 0.27%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 12.75 points, or 0.38% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 85.5 points, or 0.77%.
Among individual movers, Principia Biopharma Inc jumped 9.3% premarket and was set to open at a record high after French healthcare firm Sanofi SA said it will buy Principia for about $3.7 billion.
Chinese ecommerce website Alibaba Group slipped 0.2% after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he could exert pressure on more Chinese companies after he moved to ban TikTok earlier in the month.