Stock futures were listless in Thursday’s after-hours trade, after market jitters culminated in a four-day losing streak, underscoring how investors are growing more cautious about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy.
During Thursday’s regular session, Wall Street logged a 4th consecutive day of losses. Traders have been struggling to reconcile a seemingly hot jobs market with soaring coronavirus infections that have blunted the recovery’s momentum.
With COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations soaring because of the more contagious Delta variant, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday a sweeping set of mandates designed to nudge hesitant citizens into getting vaccinated.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index have now retreated four days, but the technology-laced Nasdaq has fared slightly better, having dropped 2 days in a row. Investors have been in a foul mood since August’s jobs data fell far short of market expectations last week, tempering hopes for the fourth quarter and getting September off to a rough start.
“You look at the markets and they’ve been amazingly calm and we think September is right for a pullback,” G Squared Wealth CFA CIO Victoria Greene told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “We’re kind of in a purgatory.”
However, at least 2 pieces of jobs data this week have pained a different picture than August’s nonfarm payrolls. Labor Department data showed that open jobs hit yet another series record, with workers quitting their jobs en masse, and nearly 11 million positions unfilled. And on Thursday, new jobless claims set a new pandemic era low at 310,000, temporarily allaying fears about the economy.
On Thursday, Biden ordered that all businesses with over 100 employees require workers to get inoculated or be tested weekly, and declared his intent to require all federal employees to get their shot. And a growing number of private employers are already imposing vaccine mandates, even as many push back return-to-office plans as the Delta variant rears its head.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” a clearly frustrated Biden declared, addressing the number of vaccine-resistant holdouts — many of whom have flooded hospitals around the country. “And your refusal has cost all of us.”
6:25 p.m. ET Thursday evening: Stock futures mixed
Here’s where markets were trading in the after-hours session:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4882.75, -0.25
Dow futures (YM=F): 34,877, +7.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 15,566, +6.00