Stock futures rose Monday evening, with the major indexes on track to close out August trading with another monthly gain.
Contracts on the S&P 500 ticked up. Both the blue-chip index and the Nasdaq set fresh record intraday and closing highs during the regular trading day, powered higher by a jump in heavily weighted Big Tech stocks.
The S&P 500 is on track to post a seventh straight monthly advance in August, pacing toward a 3% monthly gain and bringing its year-to-date increase to nearly 21%. The Nasdaq has outperformed with a gain of 4% so far in August as traders piled back into growth and technology stocks. Meanwhile, the Dow — which is heavy in cyclical stocks with earnings tied to the economic recovery — has underperformed, gaining 1.3% as concerns over the Delta variant resurged in recent weeks.
Even given the S&P 500’s march to all-time highs, many strategists have penciled in further gains.
BMO Capital Markets became the latest firm to raise its year-end price target on the S&P 500 on Monday. The company’s chief investment strategist Brian Belski wrote in a new note that he now expects the index to end the year at 4,800 instead of 4,500. He cited the “blistering rate” of corporate earnings beats in the second-quarter, with the strengthening economic backdrop helping also drive profit growth at many companies.
The current policy environment has also been conducive to further gains in equities, other strategists have noted, given the Federal Reserve’s still-accommodative policy tilt and the prospects of further government spending with the infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills being discussed in Congress.
The Fed’s policy trajectory has been especially closely watched, as traders brace for the gradual easing of crisis-era supports like the central bank’s $120 billion per-month asset purchase program. Still, key central bank officials including Fed Chair Jerome Powell have signaled they are waiting to monitor the incoming data and Delta variant’s impact on the economy before charging ahead with a policy move.
“We do think that tapering, in general, will be a non-event, most likely because first, the market has had time to react throughout this year,” James Liu, Clearnomics founder and CEO, told Yahoo Finance. “The Fed has done a great job telegraphing all this.”
“Whether it’s September or November for the announcement of taper will really depend on the jobs report coming up and some more economic data,” he added. “But regardless, the market seems to expect it at this point. This is very different from 2013, when the market had to adjust very abruptly to taper.”
6:06 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures rise
Here were the main moves as the overnight session kicked off Monday evening:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3.75 points ( 0.08%) at 4,529.00
Dow futures (YM=F): 31 points ( 0.09%) to 35,383.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 6.5 points ( 0.04%) to 15,604.00
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck