Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
The stock market is poised to wrap up a tumultuous 2020 that showed surprisingly strong gains.
Stock futures were mixed Thursday. Heading into the final session of 2020, the S&P 500 has risen 15.5% after soaring 70% from its March pandemic low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 6.6% year to date, while the Nasdaq Composite has rallied more than 43% as investors favored high-growth technology companies during the pandemic.
The number of first-time unemployment-benefits filers totaled 787,000 for the week ending Dec. 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones were expecting 828,000.
Still, the number remained well above pre-pandemic levels. Those receiving benefits under all unemployment programs dropped by nearly 800,000 to 19.6 million, but that compares with 1.8 million a year ago.
European markets, which closed early on Thursday, logged modest losses for 2020. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.14% lower on New Year's Eve after a shorter trading session, bringing its 2020 losses to 3.8%. The worst-performing market in the region has been Spain's IBEX, down 15% this year.
California health officials have identified the state's first case of a new and more infectious strain of Covid-19 that was initially discovered in the United Kingdom. The patient is a 30-year-old man in San Diego County who began showing symptoms on Sunday, county officials confirmed Wednesday.
"I don't think that the Californians should feel that this is something odd. This is something that's expected," White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday during a live Q&A session with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Fauci said other states will likely soon identify their own cases of the new strain. The first confirmed case of the strain in the United States was found in Colorado, the state announced Tuesday.
U.S. trade officials said Wednesday they were hiking tariffs on certain European Union products, including aircraft-related parts and wines from France and Germany.
In a statement, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the EU had unfairly calculated tariffs against the U.S. that are allowed by a September World Trade Organization ruling in the ongoing dispute: "The EU needs to take some measure to compensate for this unfairness."
— Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real time with CNBC Pro's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.