Wall Street set to rise as investors hold out for recovery

(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to open sharply higher on Wednesday as investors clung to hopes of a recovery from a coronavirus-fuelled slump amid signs of more stimulus for ailing sectors, while retailer Lowe’s jumped on upbeat quarterly results.

The home improvement chain rose 5.5% in premarket trading after posting higher first-quarter same-store sales as coronavirus lockdowns led people to spend more on home remodelling and repairs.

The U.S. stock market has now rallied more than 30% from March lows on unprecedented stimulus, but gains have been limited this month as traders digest mixed headlines on progress in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1% in the final hour of Tuesday’s session after a report raised doubts about positive results from Moderna Inc’s early-stage trial for a vaccine to prevent against the respiratory disease.

“We don’t expect very big gains from here but we don’t expect a downward trend either,” said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

“As the lockdowns are eased and the coronavirus epidemic is brought under control in more and more countries, some recovery in the economy is already factored into the equity prices.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday the government and the central bank were considering more measures to ensure the worst-stricken areas of the economy received adequate support.

All eyes are now on minutes due later in the day from the Fed’s latest policy meeting where it maintained interest rates near zero.

At 7:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 279 points, or 1.15%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 32 points, or 1.1% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 92.75 points, or 1%.

Target Corp reported a 64% plunge in quarterly profit, pummeled by costs to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, but its shares rose on the back of a jump in online sales.

Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Apple, Netflix Inc and Google-parent Alphabet Inc rose between 0.9% and 2.6%, while Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co gained about 2%.

Delta Air Lines Inc rose 3.1% after its chief executive officer said he was confident travel will return in the next 12 to 18 months. United Airlines Holdings gained 3.5%.

Immunotherapy company Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc surged 23.3% after saying its experimental coronavirus vaccine was shown to produce protective antibodies and immune system responses in mice and guinea pigs.

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