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Dow Futures Up; Vaccine Distribution, Stimulus Talks

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday, as investors weighed up the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, updates on a new coronavirus relief package.

The Dow Futures contract was up 248 points, or 0.8% at 7:05 AM ET (1205 GMT). S&P 500 Futures traded 28 points, or 0.8%, higher. Moreover, Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 75 points, or 0.6%. 

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has started rolling out. Starting from a facility in Michigan, it will go to hundreds of distribution centers across the country. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

U.S. coronavirus-linked deaths rapidly approach 300,000. Hence, new cases continue to explode, with more than 219,000 reported on Saturday. It’s pushing most of California back under lockdown and indoor dining set to be curtailed again in New York City.   

As a result, investors will be keen to hear if more fiscal stimulus is coming. House and Senate negotiators’ bipartisan group has decided to split its $908 billion COVID relief package into two separate proposals. 

One bill will be a $748 billion proposal. The second includes $160 billion for state and local aid.

The first includes money for small business loans, jobless benefits, and vaccine distribution and will most probably pass. The second’s local aid provides liability protections for businesses and other entities, the two biggest points of contention.

Stocks on the Move

The Federal Reserve will be holding its final monetary policy meeting of 2020, concluding on Wednesday. It’s against the background of a faltering economic recovery.

That may prompt policymakers to debate making changes to the bank’s asset purchase program. However, at this point, an alteration of the pace or composition of bond buying is deemed unlikely.

Alexion (NASDAQ:ALXN) will be in focus in the corporate sector. In addition, Britain’s AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) agreed to buy the U.S. drugmaker for $39 billion in its biggest-ever deal. 

All eyes will also be on Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). The company joins the benchmark S&P 500 index at the end of the week. 

Meanwhile, in energy commodities, oil prices pushed higher on Monday and continued recent gains. Confidence that the start of the vaccine rollout in the U.S. will lead to a rebound in demand next year. The U.S. is the world’s largest oil consumer.

Issues surround an oil tanker exploding after being hit by an as-yet-unidentified external source while discharging. This incident at Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia also resulted in prices rising.

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