Dow futures jump more than 200 points on hopes of a coronavirus vaccine

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The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands in lower Manhattan on May 18, 2020 in New York City. Markets surged today as promising details of a potential COVID-19 vaccine were released and more European countries gradually re-opened after months of lockdown.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Stocks futures opened higher in overnight trading Monday to begin a holiday-shortened week, as optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine built.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped about 270 points. The S&P 500 futures rose 1.2% and the Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 1.1%. Trading volumes remained thin in overnight action. U.S. markets were closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

American biotech company Novavax said Monday it started the first human study of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. The company said it expects initial results on safety and immune responses in July. Last week, another biotech Moderna reported positive development on its vaccine trial where all 45 participants had developed coronavirus antibodies.

The moves in futures followed a solid week for Wall Street that saw the 30-stock Dow rise 3.3%, posting its best weekly performance since April. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also climbed more than 3% last week. 

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped more than 1.6 million as deaths rose to more than 97,000, a tally from Johns Hopkins University showed as of Monday. Many states have taken steps in recent weeks to lift lockdown measures that curbed the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, investors kept an eye on the U.S.-China tensions, which showed signs of escalation over the weekend. White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Sunday the U.S. will likely impose sanctions on China if Beijing implements national security law that would give it greater control over autonomous Hong Kong.

“Next month we will know Bank stress test results; whether oil prices are a bounce or something more sustained; and if we have moved out of COVID season or into a second wave,”  Christopher Harvey, Wells Fargo’s head of equity strategy, said in a note. “If things break positively, we would expect to see a healthy rotation toward cyclicals, smaller caps, and value stocks.”

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