Futures ticked higher in Wednesday’s after-hours session, with investors looking to earnings and data for impetus to extend a 2-day rally that wiped out losses sustained during the worst trading day of 2021.
During the regular session, stocks rode a 2-day hot streak, calibrating a resurgence of COVID-19 cases against a red-hot economic expansion that continues to gain momentum. In the process, strong earnings have helped the market heal from Monday’s pandemic-inspired meltdown, with investors looking at the fundamentals rather than surging coronavirus numbers.
Industry bellwethers Netflix (NFLX), Chipotle (CMG), Coca-Cola (KO), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Verizon (VZ) topped market expectations, boosting a market that’s seen precious little downside in recent months. The sell-off that began the week was the year’s worst trading day, and spooked traders that had become “spoiled” by a seemingly endless series of win streaks.
“The truth is investors have been very spoiled by the recent stock market performance,” LPL Financial chief market strategist Ryan Detrick wrote on Wednesday.
“Incredibly, we haven’t seen as much as a 5% pullback since October. Although we firmly think this bull market is alive and well, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking trees grow forever. Risk is no doubt increasing as we head into the troublesome August and September months,” he added.
Netflix, however, bucked the market’s trend. It beat analysts’ expectations for new subscribers in Q2, but fell short of the target for estimates for Q3. On Wednesday, the stock saw its worst day in three months, tumbling by more than 3% as markets registered their disapproval over its mixed results.
Monday’s selloff momentarily took the spotlight from quarterly earnings that have almost uniformly reflected a strong rebound. The rising case count driven by the Delta variant — a more communicable form of COVID-19 — pushed the Dow (^DJI), Nasdaq (^IXIC) and S&P 500 (^GSPC) to their biggest drop in months.
However, investors are reconsidering some of that pessimism, with some analysts pointing out that hospitalizations and deaths haven’t risen as dramatically — and are far below where they were during the worst days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The market is playing this collective game of chicken right now,” CIC Wealth executive vice president Malcolm Ethridge told Yahoo Finance Live. “We all collectively agree that we can’t go on this way for much longer. There’s no obvious catalyst.”
All eyes will be on Thursday’s jobless claims, which last week set a fresh pandemic-era low. Since the onset of COVID-19, the data series has served as an avatar of the labor market’s health, and could take on new importance if rising infections start to trigger new restrictions — which may lead to another round of job losses.
6:10 p.m. ET Wednesday evening: Stock futures rise
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:10 p.m. ET:
Dow futures (YM=F): 34,716, +27
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 14,832, +4.25
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,325, +2.75
Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek