US open: Stocks in the green ahead of Biden inauguration
Wall Street stocks opened higher on Wednesday ahead of president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration later in the day.
As of 1530 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.68% at 31,140.32, while the S&P 500 was 1.09% firmer at 3,840.27 and the Nasdaq Composite came out the gate 1.76% stronger at 13,430.00.
The Dow opened 209.80 points higher on Wednesday, extending gains recorded on Donald Trump's last full day in the Oval Office.
Wednesday's primary focus will be Biden's inauguration as the 46th president of the United States shortly at 1700 GMT, with his speech set to focus on the need to bring the US together following the violent riot on Capitol Hill earlier in the month.
Market participants will also scour his speech for any further hints on the $1.9trn Covid-19 relief plan unveiled last week, which included calls for direct payments of $1,400 to the majority of Americans and additional unemployment benefits, as well as state and local government aid.
SpreadEx's Connor Campbell said: "Trump is gone, and the markets are buzzing, letting go of some of their anxieties to climb ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.
"Now that the Biden administration is a few hours way from being sworn in, investors seem more willing to look to the future. Most pressingly that includes a coherent effort to tackle coronavirus on both a fiscal and medical level – something wholly absent for a long time – alongside spending on green tech and, potentially, less fraught international relations between the States and the rest of the world."
Turning to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has now recorded more than 24.8m cases of the coronavirus, claiming the lives of more than 411,500 Americans in the process.
On the macro front, mortgage applications in the US fell 1.9% in the week ended 15 January, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications to refinance a home loan dropped 4.7%, but were up 87% year-on-year, while those to purchase a home rose 2.7% and were 15% higher than a year ago.
Elsewhere, homebuilder confidence unexpectedly fell in January, dragged down by rising Covid-19 cases and increased lumber prices. The National Association of Housebuilders/Wells Fargo housing market index slipped to a reading of 83, down from 86 in December, short of expectations for a flat month-on-month reading of 86.
In the corporate space, Procter & Gamble shares rallied before the open after raising forecast as earnings top expectations, while stock in Netflix was also in the green after the streaming giant hit 200.0m subscribers and said it was considering share buybacks.
Bank of New York Mellon said quarterly profits had fallen on lower revenues, while Morgan Stanley posted record profits on the back of blowout trading quarter.
UnitedHealth topped its fourth-quarter guidance and reaffirmed guidance for 2021, while United Airlines will post earnings after the close.