U.S. stock futures were generally higher Thursday, one day after Wall Street rallied as major tech stocks such as Apple and Microsoft led the way even as daily coronavirus cases kept spiking. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday added nearly 180 points or 0.7%. The Nasdaq advanced 1.2% and logged another record closing high.
Initial weekly jobless claims topped 1 million for the 16th straight week. However, the government said Thursday morning that new filings for first-time unemployment benefits totaled a fewer-than-expected 1.31 million last week. Continuing claims fell sharply, dropping 698,000 from a week ago to 18.1 million.
Dow stock Walgreens Boots Alliance was under pressure after the drug store giant saw fiscal third-quarter results hurt by fewer people going to the doctor and getting prescriptions and by higher costs during the pandemic. Per-share earnings missed estimates while revenue slightly beat forecasts.
Joe Biden is set to release a $700 billion plan to boost the U.S. economy. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee calls for a $400 billion, four-year increase in government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and services, with another $300 billion toward research and development.
In his plan being released Thursday, the former vice president also wants to tighten current "Buy American" laws. An outline released by Biden's campaign also touts his long-standing promises to strengthen workers' collective bargaining rights and to repeal GOP-passed tax breaks for U.S. companies.
While off daily records, new global Covid-19 infections Wednesday totaled nearly 212,000, including more than 58,600 in the United States. Also Wednesday, cumulative global cases topped 12 million and U.S. cumulative infections topped 3 million. Many states across America, including California, were still seeing major daily spikes.
Over the last two weeks, California has seen a 44% increase in hospitalizations and 34% increase in intensive care unit admissions. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that state hospitals were "still only at 8% capacity." But he warned, "That could change quickly," urging personal responsibility.
Scientists are warning about a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggested that Covid-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium. A study by researchers at University College London described 43 cases of patients with Covid-19 who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects. The research adds to recent studies that also found the disease can damage the brain.
Shortly after President Donald Trump slammed school reopening blueprints from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday the CDC will be issuing five new documents next week that contain guidelines for schools and parents that are not as "tough" as the existing ones. Trump on Wednesday raised the possibility of withholding federal funding from schools that do not resume in-person classes this fall. On Tuesday, Trump promised to pressure governors and educators to reopen schools, a move seen as key component of helping the U.S. economy recover.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.