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U.S. stock futures were steady Thursday morning, one day after the S&P 500 closed at another record. The Dow on Wednesday also logged a small gain, putting the 30-stock average less than 1% from its Nov. 24 all-time high close.
The reluctance to commit on Wall Street reflected the uncertainty around a new Covid stimulus bill from a bipartisan group of senators. Investors are also watching the bond market, where the 10-year Treasury yield was approaching 1% in recent days.
The Labor Department on Thursday reported a fewer than expected 712,000 initial jobless claims for the week ending Nov. 28, down from an upwardly revised 787,000 the prior week. Ahead of Friday's release of the government's November employment report, Wednesday's monthly ADP report on private sector jobs showed that a lower-than-expected 307,000 new positions were added at U.S. companies last month, the slowest pace since July.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconsider and use the $908 billion bipartisan Covid-19 stimulus plan as the basis for relief talks. In a joint statement Wednesday, the Democratic leaders endorsed the more narrow approach. In the past, they sought a bill more than twice as big. McConnell quickly shot down the bipartisan plan after it was released Tuesday. He wants a relief bill of only half the size.
The Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker reported a record-high number of Covid-19 deaths for Wednesday, topping 2,800. However, with reporting delays around the Thanksgiving holiday, that number could be revised. Nevertheless, the U.S. death toll and new cases have been generally trending higher and higher for weeks. As of Wednesday, a record of more than 100,000 people were hospitalized with Covid. The current number of hospitalized patients underscores the scope and severity of the current spike in outbreak in the U.S.
The director of the CDC is painting a bleak picture. Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday that about 90% of hospitals in the country are in "hot zones and the red zones" on capacity. He also said he feared that deaths from Covid-19 could reach 450,000 by February. Total U.S. coronavirus fatalities were 273,847 as of Thursday morning.
Los Angeles is nearing "a devastating tipping point" in the fight against the coronavirus, Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday. He ordered residents of America's second-largest city to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings in new lockdown measures.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.