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Dow and S&P 500 futures rose but Nasdaq futures dipped slightly Thursday, a day after a mixed session left all three stock benchmarks less than 1% from their record highs. Shortly after Wednesday's market close, the House impeached President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol last week. Premarket stock reaction was relatively muted because the House vote was widely expected.
Investors were also focusing on the Labor Department's much larger than expected weekly initial jobless claims report. New filings for unemployment benefits last week surged to 965,000, the highest weekly total since August as Covid spikes led to more virus mitigation restrictions. Economists had been calling for a smaller rise to 800,000 in new claims.
Delta Air Lines cut in half its cash burn and narrowed its losses in the fourth quarter as the coronavirus pandemic drove the carrier to its worst year ever. Shares in the premarket rose more than 1%. The airline hopes for a recovery in 2021 as Covid-19 vaccines are more widely administered.
Shares of BlackRock were higher by more than 1% Thursday after the New York-based firm reported better-than-expected profits and revenue in the fourth quarter. BlackRock's assets under management surged to a record $8.68 trillion at the conclusion of the quarter.
Ten Republicans joined all of the House Democrats in a 232-197 vote to impeach Trump. GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, majority leader until Georgia certifies the Democrats' two runoff election wins, said the Senate won't start Trump's trial until Tuesday. That's one day before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, which is expected to be locked down with unprecedented security. In a video released Wednesday, Trump sent his clearest condemnation yet of last week's Capitol riot. However, he took no responsibility and made no mention of impeachment.
Biden is expected to unveil Thursday a coronavirus action plan, centering on a mass vaccination program and closer coordination among all levels of government. The Biden plan comes as the U.S. battles another surge in Covid cases and deaths.
Mainland China on Thursday reported its first Covid death since May as authorities try to control a spike in cases just outside of Beijing. The flare-up unfolds as a WHO team arrives in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019, to investigate the origins of the virus alongside Chinese scientists.
Johnson & Johnson's one-dose Covid vaccine is safe and appears to generate a promising immune response in young and elderly volunteers, according to trial data published in the New England Journal of Medicine. J&J is expected to release results from its 45,000-person phase three trial later this month, which could then lead to a third vaccine approved for emergency use in the U.S. by the FDA. J&J is using the same technologies behind its Ebola vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna employed a new approach for their respective two-shot vaccines.
Two initial public offering are debuting on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Petco priced its IPO at $18 per share, above the expected range of $14 to $17, valuing the pet products retailer at nearly $4 billion. Poshmark priced its IPO at $42 per share, above the expected range of $35 to $39. The offering gives the online secondhand goods seller an initial valuation of more than $3 billion.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. 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.