Market Snapshot: U.S. stock-index futures take breather after S&P 500, Nasdaq hit records

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U.S. stock-index futures pointed lower Wednesday, signaling equities will take a breather a day after the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite kicked off December with a new round of records.

What are major benchmarks doing?
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, -0.46% were down 112 points, or 0.4%, at 29,692.
  • S&P 500 futures ES00, -0.32% fell 9 points, or 0.3%, to 3,651.50.
  • Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, -0.35% were down 26 points, or 0.2%, at 12,426.25.

Stocks ended off session highs on Tuesday, but scored gains that lifted the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite to record finishes.

  • The Dow DJIA, +0.62% rose 185.28 points, or 0.6%, to end at 29,823.90.
  • The S&P 500 SPX, +1.12% gained 40.82 points, or 1.1%, to close at 3,662.45.
  • The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.28% advanced 156.37 points, or 1.3%, to finish at 12,355.11.
What’s driving the market?

Tuesday’s gains built on a historic November rally for stocks tied largely to progress toward COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, the U.K. granted approval for the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. PFE, +2.87% and BioNTech SE BNTX, -8.23% for emergency use.

“But as vaccine rollouts take a step closer to becoming reality, there are some signs of fatigue in the risk rally, indicating perhaps that much of the good news has already been priced in by the markets,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note.

Deal-related news was also in focus after Dow component Inc. CRM, -1.81% late Tuesday announced it would acquire Slack Technologies Inc. WORK, +2.23% in a transaction worth $27.7 billion. Salesforce shares were down 4% in premarket trade, while Slack shares were down 0.6%.

Opinion: Salesforce’s deal for Slack creates a bigger threat to Microsoft

Investors also remain focused on prospects for another round of aid spending from Washington. Hopes were raised Tuesday after a bipartisan group of lawmakers laid out a $908 billion plan, but some disappointment was seen later in the session after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has called for a $500 billion package, said he wanted to pass a “targeted relief package,” according to news reports.

See: Endgame afoot on Capitol Hill as lawmakers mull fiscal stimulus, funding, defense bills

President-elect Joe Biden, in an interview with the New York Times, said he wouldn’t move to immediately remove tariffs placed on Chinese imports by the Trump administration.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will appear before Congress for a second day Wednesday morning.

On the U.S. economic data front, ADP will release its estimate of November private-sector payroll activity at 8:15 a.m. Eastern. The Federal Reserve’s so-called Beige Book compilation of economic anecdotes from across the central bank’s regions is due for release at 2 p.m.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Pfizer shares were up 3.9% in premarket trade after the U.K. vaccine news, while American depositary receipts of Germany-based BioNTech were up 6.9%.