Global Stocks Trade Mixed

Global stocks traded mixed last Friday, as investors are keeping a close watch on stimulus talks and Brexit negotiations.

US stock futures were flat a day after the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite all logged fresh record closes.

A jump in weekly jobless claims drove hopes that lawmakers will push to get a pandemic-stimulus-aid deal agreed.

Dow futures rose 15 points, or 0.05 percent. S&P 500 futures were up 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq was indicated to open up 0.1 percent.

Congressional leaders are reportedly nearing a deal worth around $900 billion, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned last Thursday that lawmakers needed to work into the weekend.

Congress must also pass a bill to prevent a government shutdown before closing for the holidays last Saturday.

“The fear is it drags into the period between Christmas and New Year, creating heightened uncertainty into year-end,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda Europe, in a note to clients.

Shares of Moderna (ticker: MRNA) are likely to be in the spotlight, after a panel of independent advisors to the Food and Drug Administration last Thursday voted to support the authorisation of the biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate for emergency use.

Many expect FDA approval of what would be a second vaccine will follow. FDA scientists told the panel earlier last Thursday that Moderna’s vaccine merits the agency’s emergency-use authorisation, as the US battles a second wave of the virus.

Trade tensions could be in focus for Friday, after Reuters reported the US would add dozens of Chinese companies to a trade blacklist last Friday. Chinese chip maker SMIC is expected to be among those, two sources told Reuters last Thursday.

In Asia, stocks closed mostly lower across the board, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index was little changed. The FTSE 100 index rose 0.1 percent as the pound fell on concerns around post-Brexit trade deal talks.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier reportedly said last Friday there are “just a few hours left” for a deal to be struck as he told European lawmakers it was “the moment of truth” for both sides.

The European Union has warned that a deal must be reached by Sunday to be ratified before the end of the year. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union’s executive arm, spoke last Thursday, but key sticking points remain over fisheries and a “level playing field” to ensure fair competition.

FedEx (FDX) shares were down 3.percent after the company beat revenue and earnings estimates. Revenue was $20.6 billion, beating estimates of $19.4 billion. Earnings per share were $484 against expectations of $4.01.

Nike (NKE) shares were up 0.8 percent in anticipation of its earnings report after the closing bell Friday.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) fell 2 percent after the company reported a mixed quarter and said it expects revenue to fall more than 30 percent in the current quarter due to renewed lockdowns.

Darden reported a profit of 73 cents a share, beating estimates of 71 cents a share, on revenue of $1.66 billion, topping forecasts for $1.69 billion.

Shares of Rocket Companies (RKT) fell 2.5 percent after the stock was downgraded at Keefe Bruyette to Underperform from Market Perform. Palantir Technologies (PLTR) fell almost 4 percent after Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to Underperform from Neutral and lowered its price target to $13 from $17. – Barrons

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