Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stocks to rise after Dow, S&P 500 had best month since November
- 10-year Treasury yield dips below 1.7% after of jobless claims data
- Pfizer Covid vaccine 91% effective in updated trial data
- AP: Firm at center of J&J's Covid vaccine woes has a series of citations
- After infrastructure announcement, Biden to hold first Cabinet meeting
U.S. stock futures were beginning April higher after the S&P 500 closed out its best month since November with a gain of 4.2%. The index hit an all-time intraday high Wednesday but failed to close at a record.
The Dow, which closed at a record Monday, saw its second modest decline in a row Wednesday. But the 30-stock average, like the S&P 500, had its best month since November, posting a March gain of 6.6%. For the first quarter, the blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500 rose 7.8% and 5.8%, respectively, for their fourth positive quarter in a row.
The Nasdaq broke a two-session losing streak with a 1.5% gain Wednesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has recently been the underperformer as technology stocks are especially sensitive to rising market interest rates because they depend on borrowing money cheaply to invest in future growth. For March, the index gained just 0.4%. For the quarter, it gained 2.8%.
The 10-year Treasury yield, which is used as a benchmark for many corporate and consumer loan rates, hit a 14-month high over 1.77% on Tuesday. Two days later, it traded lower, below 1.7%, after the government reported a higher-than-expected 719,000 new filings for unemployment benefits last week.
The prior week was revised lower to 658,000 initial jobless claims, the lowest level in over a year. The Labor Department is set to issue its monthly employment report Friday despite the Good Friday closure of the stock market.
Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday their two-shot Covid vaccine is around 91% effective, citing updated trial data, which included people inoculated for up to six months. The vaccine was also 100% effective, among trial participants in South Africa, where a new variant is dominant. However, the number of those South Africa participants was relatively small at 800.
While the new overall efficacy rate is lower than the 95% originally reported in November, a number of variants have become more prevalent around the world since then. Shares of Pfizer and BioNTech were up in the premarket.
Shares of Emergent BioSolutions, the company at the center of problems that led Johnson & Johnson to discard an unknown amount of its Covid vaccine, dropped 7% in Thursday's premarket. According to records obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, Emergent has had a string of citations from U.S. health officials for quality control problems. The records cover inspections at Emergent facilities since 2017.
While it's unclear how many doses were ruined, J&J said Wednesday it's still planning to deliver 100 million doses of its one-shot vaccine by the end of June. Shares of J&J fell in premarket trading.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to hold his first Cabinet meeting Thursday. The timing comes a week after Biden's full Cabinet was confirmed and a day after the president released his long-awaited infrastructure package, which would spend roughly $2 trillion over eight years. An increase in the tax rate on U.S. companies to 28% would pay for the sprawling plan.
Biden said he will unveil the second part of his recovery package "in a few weeks." Wednesday's announcements kicked off Biden's second major initiative after the passage and signing of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan earlier this month.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC's coronavirus blog.