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Stock futures open flat after Thursday’s wild session


People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 18, 2020 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Stock futures were flat on Thursday night following a mixed session in which coronavirus concerns pushed investors further into tech shares.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up just 18 points, or 0.1%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures traded marginally higher as well. 

The Nasdaq Composite closed at an all-time high during regular trading as Amazon jumped 3% to a record. Microsoft, Apple and Netflix were also higher.

But the rest of the market struggled. The Dow dropped more than 300 points, erasing its week-to-date gains. The S&P 500 dipped 0.6%.

“It was a relatively quiet session, yet a roller coaster ride nonetheless,” said Frank Cappelleri, executive director at Instinet, in a note to clients. He also pointed out the S&P 500 fell 2% from its session high to its low of the day before regaining some of those losses. “Overall, breadth was quite negative, though … the SPX’s five biggest stocks advanced” but 392 stocks in the index all declined.

This divergence between tech and the rest of the market came as coronavirus-related hospitalizations hit a record in Florida. In California, the state’s daily average increase of coronavirus cases went up to a record as well.

The virus resurgence raised questions about the health of the economy moving forward, pressuring companies that would benefit from an economic recovery. Airlines such as United, Delta and American all closed lower on Thursday. Cruise operators Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line also fell.

“The path forward for the economy will likely hinge on the amount of financial scarring that occurs in the months ahead and degree of consumer engagement as coronavirus concerns fluctuate,” wrote Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. “High levels of initial jobless claims and evidence that small businesses are closing are sobering reminders of the economic challenges that lie ahead.”

The Dow will limp into Friday’s session with a 0.5% loss for the week. The S&P 500 pared some of its weekly gains, but is still up 0.7% in that time period. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, was on pace for its third weekly gain in four weeks.

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