Futures open flat as Omicron concerns subside

Stock futures opened relatively flat on Wednesday evening, though sustaining gains posted by a three-day recovery rally that was led by cooled investor concerns around the Omicron variant.

Dow futures inched up 0.02{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996}, while contracts on the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.10{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996}. All major indexes closed up, with the S&P 500 gaining 14.46 points to close the session at 4,701.21, just 0.5{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996} shy of the trading session on Nov. 24, a day before the latest COVID-19 variant was announced by the World Health Organization. 

The moves were supported by eased virus fears after Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech reported that early lab studies show a third dose of their coronavirus vaccine mitigates the Omicron variant. The vaccine makers had indicated the initial two doses may not be enough to protect against infection from Omicron. Shares of Pfizer (PFE) traded 0.62{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996} lower on Wednesday, closing at $51.40.

“We do think that there is fundamental support there for markets to continue to move higher here,” Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock investment management, told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday. “Obviously we had a couple of things spook us over the last week or so, the emergence of the Omicron variant as well as this pivot from the Fed, potentially seeing them accelerating their tapering of asset purchases here. But the bottom line is that the economy is strong.”

With virus concerns diminishing, investors are pivoting their attention back to economic data, awaiting Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures on Friday to assess the extent inflationary pressures will persist.

“If the Omicron variant was to lead to a resurgence in goods spending at the expense of services or to further complicate supply disruptions, there could be a clear inflationary impact, too,” HSBC economist James Pomeroy wrote earlier this week in a research note to clients. “The inflation news in the past few weeks has been decidedly mixed — with upside surprises in both the U.S. and eurozone being offset by the possibility of some of the supply chain issues starting to alleviate, while energy prices have fallen sharply in recent days.

Separately, Apple shares rose 2.3{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996} closing at $175.08 Wednesday — hitting a third-consecutive record high. The iPhone maker is on the cusp of becoming a $3 trillion company. The milestone would be reached at a time when the company is expected to foray into augmented and virtual reality with the launch of headsets in 2022. 

6:57 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures flat

Here were the main moves in markets in late trading on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -1.75 points (-0.04{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996}), to 4,697.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): + -8 points (-0.02{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996}), to 35,728

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -16.50 points (-0.10{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996}) to 16,375.75

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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