Futures higher on drop in new coronavirus cases


US stock index futures rose on Wednesday after a drop in the number of new cases of coronavirus infections in China raised hopes that the economic fallout from the outbreak would be contained. China on Wednesday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since January, lending weight to a prediction by its top medical adviser for the outbreak to end by April, even as the death toll in the country rose to more than 1,100 people, report agencies.

However, it was still unclear to what extent economic growth would take a hit from the virus outbreak that has killed more than 1,100 people, shuttered businesses in China and roiled financial markets late January. Most experts believe China faces a short but sharper economic shock than originally thought, one that will be felt around the world.

Still, the benchmark S&P 500 has climbed more than 4.5% from late January lows as largely positive fourth quarter earnings, encouraging U.S. economic data and stimulus from China spurred a demand for risk despite concerns about the virus outbreak.

The S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq .IXIC hit record closing highs on Tuesday. At 7:08 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 120 points, or 0.41%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 12.25 points, or 0.36% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 45.25 points, or 0.47%.

Among stocks, oil major Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) gained more than 0.9% and 0.8% each as oil prices surged. Chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) gained 2.3% after UBS raised the rating on its shares to “buy”, while Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O) advanced 3% on reports Bank of America Global Research upgraded its shares to “buy”.

On the economic front, investors will keep an eye on the Labor Department’s inflation report for January, expected at 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. The consumer price index likely grew 0.2%, in line with the prior month’s increase. Markets will also closely follow remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as he resumes the second day of his semiannual economic report to the Congress.