Stocks – U.S. Futures Head Higher; Testing Boost to Help States Reopen

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Investing.com – U.S. stocks are set to open higher Tuesday, continuing recent gains as more states look to reopen, taking advantage of growing support from the federal government with regard to testing. 

At 07:20 AM ET (1120 GMT), S&P 500 futures traded 32 points, or 1.2%, higher, Nasdaq futures up 98 points, or 1.1%. The Dow futures contract rose 315 points, or 1.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average cash index is having its best month since October 2002. The S&P 500 its best month since January 1987, while the NASDAQ Composite is set for its best month since April 2009.

These gains come despite over 25 million Americans claiming unemployment benefits over the last month and retail sales dropping 8.7% in March, the deepest drop on record.

Investors are now looking forward, as more and more U.S. states try to reopen their economies, Texas and Ohio being the latest to move on Monday. The coronavirus infection rate has dropped significantly in several hotspots across the country, including New York, the national epicenter. Confirmed cases in the U.S. rose only 2.5% on Monday, the smallest rise since the outbreak started.

President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. would dramatically expand testing for the coronavirus in May to reduce the risk of reopening state economies.

The Federal Reserve starts its two-day meeting later Tuesday, a get together that could produce more stimulus to support the economy, although expectations are ‘muted’

The corporate earnings season picks up pace Tuesday, with tech giant Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) set to release results after the close.

Ahead of that, Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) stock dropped 1.2% after it posted a $94 million net loss in the first quarter, its first quarterly loss in nine years. 

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)’s shares gained 2% after first-quarter earnings beat forecasts and revenue topped expectations, but Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) dropped 1% after earnings slumped as customers reined in capital expenditure.

Economic data comes in the form of the consumer confidence index for April, at 10 AM ET (14:00 GMT). This is expected to have dropped to 87.9 from 120 the month before – a sizable drop, but still well above the all-time low in the 30s seen during the Financial Crisis.

U.S. oil prices were lower, after S&P Global was reported to have told its clients to roll all their exposure out of WTI June futures and into July with immediate effect.

S&P Global runs the most popular and biggest commodity index in the world, the S&P GSCI.

More information about storage levels are due later Tuesday, as the American Petroleum Institute will report its measure of crude stockpiles after the market close. Last week the API reported a rise of about 13.2 million barrels in inventories.

At 7 AM ET, the U.S. crude traded 10% lower at $11.43 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract was flat at $23.07.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,722/oz, while EUR/USD traded at $1.0880, up 0.5%.

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