Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
Dow futures rose modestly Friday, a day after the 30-stock average gained nearly 1% and closed above 34,000 for the first time ever. The S&P 500 increased 1.1% to another record close. The Nasdaq had the best day, jumping 1.3% and finishing 0.4% away from its February closing record. Tech stocks rallied Thursday as the 10-year Treasury yield slipped below 1.6%. Spiking bond yields dragged growth names down to their recent lows last month. Morgan Stanley on Friday morning reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue in the first quarter on strong bond trading results, following a week of stellar quarterly results to by financial firms.
Blowout March retail sales Thursday helped lift stocks — and Friday, investors got a look at the red-hot residential real estate market. The Commerce Department said March housing starts surged 19.4%, beating estimates. Building permits gained 2.7%, falling short of expectations. Privately-owned housing completions in March increased 16.6%. Homebuilders have recently been increasing construction, and new government Covid stimulus could add to that trend.
China reported first-quarter gross domestic product a touch below expectations as industrial production disappointed but retail sales beat estimates. GDP soared 18.3% in the first three months of the year from a year earlier, China's National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. In the first quarter last year, the economy shrank by 6.8% — during the height of the domestic Covid outbreak.
The World Health Organization chief said Friday that an alarming trend of rising Covid cases has resulted in infections around the world now approaching their highest level ever. In the U.S., cases per week are well off their all-time highs but consistent with levels seen during the summer surge. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will likely need a booster dose of a Covid vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. Bourla said it's possible that yearly vaccinations against the coronavirus will also be necessary.
At least eight people died after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis late Thursday and then killed himself, city police said. FedEx said in a statement: "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members. ... We are fully cooperating with investigating authorities." Last week, President Joe Biden announced a series of executive actions aimed at tackling what he called a national epidemic of gun violence. In March alone, 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colorado.