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Stock Futures Drift Higher in Muted Holiday Trading

11/26/2020 | 05:25am EST

By Joe Wallace

U.S. stock futures drifted higher Thursday, with investors anticipating a quiet day of trading on Thanksgiving.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked up 0.1%, a day after the benchmark stocks gauge closed at its second-highest level on record. Futures for the technology-heavy Nasdaq-100 index edged up 0.3%.

U.S. stock and government-bond markets will be closed for the holiday.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 wavered between gains and losses, with U.K. equity markets weighing on the broader gauge.

Most major Asian markets ended the day higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.9% to its highest level since 1991. The Shanghai Composite Index ticked up 0.2%.

Stocks have been buoyed in recent weeks by optimism about the potential widespread distribution of three Western vaccines in the new year. Investors say the shots likely have the potential to quell the pandemic, allowing portions of the world economy to reopen and releasing pent-up demand for goods and services.

"The big story has been the strength in equity markets," said Joe Little, chief global strategist at HSBC Asset Management. "You're seeing many of these laggard sectors and even laggard markets begin to enter the process of a catch-up."

The rotation into economically-sensitive sectors can keep running in 2021, according to Mr. Little. European and U.K. stock markets, heavily dominated by old-economy companies, stand to benefit, he added.

Among individual European stocks, Repsol fell 2.8% after the Spanish energy company said it would invest EUR18.3 billion ($21.8 billion) between 2021 and 2025 in a push to accelerate the energy transition.

Buoyant stock markets in the U.S. and Europe contrast with a worsening economic outlook for the next several months, as rising coronavirus cases weigh on consumer confidence and restrictions crimp activity. German consumer sentiment is set to fall in December, market-research firm GfK said Thursday, after a pickup in infections led authorities to impose a partial lockdown.

"There is a kind of contrast between the current situation around us in the real world, where we see effectively we are in a double-dip [recession]," said Nadège Dufossé, deputy head of multiasset at Luxembourg-based asset manager Candriam. "But the market is now focusing on next year, on the rebound."

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of others, was flat.

Sweden's krona slipped 0.3% after the Riksbank said its key interest rate is likely to remain at zero for the coming years. The central bank expanded and extended its asset-purchase program.

In commodities, Brent-crude futures fell 1.6% to $47.74 a barrel, trimming recent gains after the international energy benchmark settled at its highest level since early March on Wednesday.

Write to Joe Wallace at Joe.Wallace@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-26-20 0524ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.38% 30882.79 Delayed Quote.1.28%
NASDAQ 100 0.44% 13426.86645 Delayed Quote.3.71%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.25% 13578.070506 Delayed Quote.5.08%
NIKKEI 225 0.67% 28822.29 Real-time Quote.4.33%
S&P 500 0.00% 3841.8 Delayed Quote.2.27%
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