US STOCKS-S&P 500 set to open higher as Apple gains

Dow set to sink 400 points as new viral strain overshadows fresh coronavirus aid
December 21, 2020
Wall Street in balance, between health fears and budget hopes
December 22, 2020

US STOCKS-S&P 500 set to open higher as Apple gains

* Apple targets electric car production by 2024

* Peloton jumps on $420 mln deal to buy peer Precor

* Futures: Dow flat, S&P up 0.21%, Nasdaq up 0.50% (Adds comment; updates share prices)

Dec 22 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 index was set to open higher on Tuesday, propped up by Apple on an exclusive report that it was planning car and battery production, as well as Washington’s approval of a stimulus package to revive the pandemic-battered economy.

Shares of the iPhone maker were up 3.1% in pre-market trading after Reuters reported that the company was moving forward with self-driving car technology and was targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.

Wall Street indexes ended well above intraday lows on Monday after the U.S. Congress approved a much-awaited $892 billion stimulus package, allaying fears of a further hit to the economy from a new coronavirus strain discovered in Britain.

“While the virus news continues to overshadow from time to time, the market is probably going to resume its upward trend, and that’s probably because relief is coming for the economy,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“With two and a half trading days before Christmas holidays, I think stocks will probably creep their way higher.”

Trading activity is expected to be subdued in the last two weeks of the year.

At 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 8 points, or 0.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.21%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 63.75 points, or 0.5%.

Sentiment was also aided by the final reading for third-quarter economic growth coming in slightly above preliminary data. The U.S. economy expanded at a record pace in the quarter as it rebounded from a pandemic-induced slump.

Increased liquidity measures, a favorable election outcome and easy monetary policy have set Wall Street indexes for strong annual gains, despite a rocky start to the year.

Technology stocks have outperformed their peers by a big margin, thanks to their perceived resilience to virus-related disruptions.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc rose 0.5% after slumping more than 6% in its first day of trading as part of the S&P 500 on Monday.

Fitbit Inc slipped 6.4% after Australia’s antitrust regulator rejected Alphabet Inc-owned Google’s undertaking that sought to address competition concerns over its planned $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness tracker maker.

Peloton Interactive Inc jumped 11.4% as brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, a day after the exercise bike maker said it would buy peer Precor in a $420 million deal to boost its U.S. manufacturing capacity and market share for fitness products.

A consumer confidence report for December, due at 10 am ET, is expected to show an increase from the preceding month on positive developments related to coronavirus vaccines and stimulus measures. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)