Stock market news live updates: Wall Street poised for mixed open as fears over rising COVID infections take hold

U.S. stock futures were mostly lower on Friday, with blue-chip stocks poised to extend Thursday’s losses, as growing concerns over nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe raised fears about new restrictions beyond the continent.

Dow and S&P 500 contracts surrendered early gains after the Austrian government announced a full lockdown starting on Monday, in response to cases of COVID-19 surging in Europe. The lockdown will include both those vaccinated and unvaccinated, it will last for 10 days minimum, but could be extended for 10 days further.

“The news is hitting European markets hard this morning as fears mount that the virus and restrictions will spread across the continent again,” said Jim Reid, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, adding that “the curveball might be the U.S.” given lower rates of vaccination domestically than in Europe.

“So although all the headlines are in Europe at the moment, will the U.S. be more vulnerable than many European countries over the course of the full winter? Recent history suggests the US have a higher bar for economic restrictions related to covid but it also has a lower vaccination rate than their European peers,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Nasdaq futures pointed higher, bolstered by a jump in stocks associated with the “stay-at-home” trade that characterized much of 2020. Treasury yields, which have jumped in response to rising inflation fears, retreated early Friday as investors flocked to safe-haven assets. Brent crude (CL=F) sank by over 3%, reflecting jitters that lockdowns will curb energy demand.

On Thursday, The Dow (^DJI) fell 230 points (0.2%), pressured by a drop in shares of Cisco (CSCO). The computer networking company posted quarterly results after the bell Wednesday that fell short of analysts’ expectations due to component shortages and the company issuing weaker-than-expected guidance. Yet the S&P 500 gained and techheavy Nasdaq — led by gains from Tesla (TSLA) and Nvidia (NVDA) — ended at all-time closing highs.

There is no economic data on the calendar on Friday, however investors will be keeping a close eye on Washington, where the House is expected to pass President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill. The bill lays out the administration’s plans to spend $1.85 trillion on education, healthcare and the climate.

Also in focus for the markets is Biden’s Federal Reserve chair nomination. Biden told reporters on Tuesday to expect the announcement of a nominee for Fed chair in “the next four days.” The White House appears to be weighing two options: reappoint current chair Jerome Powell or Fed governor Lael Brainard. 

“The market so far is believing that it will be Powell again, but any sort of a change would mean that they want to hear a reiteration of the monetary policy and forward expectations,” Sonali Pier, Pimco’s Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday.

“[That means] tapering, being at a pace of about $10 billion in treasuries, $5 billion in agency MBS, then thereafter seeing rate hikes but not a significant shift to be more hawkish,” Pier added.

7:30 a.m. ET Friday: Stock futures poised for mixed start

Here’s where markets were trading Friday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -11.75 points ( 0.25%), to 4,689.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -194 points (-0.54%), to 35,619.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 54.75 points ( 0.33%) to 16,536.00

  • Crude (CL=F): -$2.65 (-3.35%) to $76.36 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): $1.90 ( 0.10%) to $1,863.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.5 bps to yield 1.533%

6:28 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures open higher

Here’s where markets were trading Thursday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 0.5 points ( 0.11%), to 4,706.50

  • Dow futures (YM=F): and 33 points ( 0.09%), to 35,844.00

Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 22 points ( 0.13%) to 16,503.50

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly