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Futures gain as more states prepare to ease lockdown

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday as more states looked set to lift coronavirus-induced curbs, and investors awaited earnings reports from marquee companies including Apple and Microsoft due this week.

FILE PHOTO: The floor of the New York Stock Exchange. New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A late session rally for tech majors had helped Wall Street end higher on Friday, with sentiment also getting a boost as Georgia became the first state to ease restrictions despite disapproval from President Donald Trump and health experts.

Although trillions of dollars in stimulus have helped the S&P 500 recover nearly 30{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} from March lows, with the economic damage only growing, analysts say more gains may be limited unless there is progress on treatments for the disease.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters on Sunday the U.S. jobless rate would likely hit 16{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} or more in April. Against that, many more U.S. states were looking to reopen businesses.

Boeing Co (BA.N) gained 1.6{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in premarket trading after it pulled out of a $4.2 billion deal to buy Brazil planemaker Embraer’s (EMBR3.SA) commercial jets division over the weekend.

“It’s very promising what we are now seeing … including the fact that states in the U.S and countries across Europe are starting to at least plan for the lifting of restrictions,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at OANDA in London.

With the Bank of Japan weighing in with more stimulus on Monday, focus this week will be on the Federal Reserve’s meeting ending on Wednesday, although expectations are low for more easing by the U.S. central bank.

At 7:58 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 219 points, or 0.93{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 26 points, or 0.92{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 109.25 points, or 1.25{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}.

About 173 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report quarterly earnings this week, including Apple (AAPL.O), Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O), Boeing (BA.N), Ford (F.N), General Electric (GE.N) and Chevron (CVX.N).

Overall, analysts expect a decline of nearly 15{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in first-quarter earnings of S&P 500 companies, with profits for the energy sector estimated to have slumped 68{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}.

Apple gave up some early gains after a report said the company was delaying the production ramp-up of its flagship iPhones coming later this year by about a month.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O) slipped 0.2{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} after the U.S. drugmaker and France’s Sanofi SA (SASY.PA) said they would continue a late-stage trial of their arthritis drug, Kevzara, in only COVID-19 patients who are critical, and discontinued the trial for those in the “severe” group.

Reporting by C Nivedita and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sagarika Jaisinghani

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