Futures muted in the last trading session of 2020 By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The boot on the statue of former U.S. President George Washington is seen across the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) following Election Day in Manhattan, New York City

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were muted in the last trading session of a tumultuous year on Thursday, as investors digested big market gains and hoped that more stimulus and coronavirus vaccines will drive a strong economic recovery in 2021.

Wall Street’s main indexes surged to record highs this week in a stunning recovery since March when the COVID-19 triggered the steepest global recession in generations and left millions of Americans unemployed.

Unprecedented levels of central bank and government stimulus have helped the benchmark climb almost 70% from its March low and put it on course for a more than 15% annual gain.

The Nasdaq, which has benefited from a surge in the valuation of tech mega-caps such as Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc, Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:), Apple Inc (NASDAQ:), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:) – is on course to record a 43% increase in 2020, its best yearly performance since 2009.

Countries across the globe are still fighting a rapid surge in cases, with the highly infectious COVID-19 variant originally discovered in Britain detected in California, a day after the first known U.S. case was documented in Colorado.

However, a favorable U.S. election outcome, large-scale vaccination campaigns and signs that a fiscal stimulus deal will be eventually reached in Washington helped Wall Street continue its rally.

At 07:36 a.m. ET, were down 19 points, or 0.06%, were down 1.25 points, or 0.03%, and were up 10.25 points, or 0.08%.

Trading volumes are expected to be light with many traders away on New Year’s Eve.

Near-term expectations of bigger stimulus checks dimmed after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a quick vote to back President Donald Trump’s call to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000 from $600.

All eyes will be on two U.S. Senate races in Georgia next week that will determine control of the chamber and influence Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to enact his agenda.

The U.S. Labor Department’s weekly unemployment report is due at 08:30 a.m. ET, which is expected to show a rise in jobless claims, strengthening views of a slowing economic recovery.


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