Stock futures trade cautiously following record day

Stock futures trade cautiously following record day

U.S. equity futures are cautiously higher ahead of the Friday trading session.

The major futures indexes suggest a gain of 0.1% at the start of trading.

Wall Street hit a new high Thursday on optimism about economic stimulus and coronavirus vaccine development despite a spike in U.S. unemployment claims.

In Europe, London’s FTSE added 0.2%, Germany’s DAX gained 0.2% and France’s CAC was little changed.

In Japan, the central bank extended an emergency loan program by six months and left monetary policy unchanged, as expected.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.7% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3%.

Investors have been waiting for U.S. lawmakers to agree on new aid to replace unemployment benefits that are expiring. That loss in income undercuts consumer spending that powers the biggest global economy and demand for imports from Asian and other suppliers.

The Labor Department reported the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to 885,000 last week, the highest level since September.

Progress in developing and distributing coronavirus vaccines has helped to buoy optimism the U.S. economy might start to recover next year.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are locked in a fight divided by party lines over the size and scope of an aid package at a time when the economy is showing fresh signs of stalling due to pressure from the pandemic.

Despite that, the S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Thursday to 3,722.48. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5% to 30,303.37. The Nasdaq added 0.8% to 12,764.75.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude slipped 7 cents to $48.30 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 54 cents on Thursday to $48.36. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, declined 12 cents to $51.38 per barrel in London. The contract rose 42 cents the previous session to $51.50.