Dow futures inch lower Thursday night as investors start to position for Memorial Day weekend amid coronavirus

U.S. stock-index futures edged lower in thin trade Thursday night as investors looked ahead to the final trading session of the week before a three-day weekend in the U.S. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 46 points, or 0.4%, at 24,474, those for the S&P 500 index declined 0.3%, at 2,928.75, while Nasdaq-100 future gave up 0.3% at 9,331.50. Markets in the U.S. will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day and the bond market will close an hour early at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday and remain closed until Tuesday. The week has been fraught with worries about U.S.-China relations which have deteriorated in recent weeks as the Trump administration blames Beijing for mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic that was first identified in Wuhan back in December. Legislators in Washington also approved a bill aimed at censuring China’s move to impose new national-security laws on Hong Kong. On Wednesday, the Senate, separately, passed legislation that could have the effect of banning Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges. All of these actions have been mostly dismissed by investors but could renew Sino-American animosities. Still, the main equity benchmarks have gained for the week with returns pegged to optimism surrounding state reopenings. Indeed, Universal Orlando executive John Sprouls asked Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings for approval to open the company’s theme parks as early as June 5, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Expectations that a remedy for the illness, which has infected more than 5 million people and claimed 330,000 lives, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, also have buoyed assets perceived as risky. For the week, the Dow has climbed 3.3%, the S&P 500 has returned 3% and the Nasdaq Composite Index has risen 3%, as of Thursday’s regular close of trade. The big question may be whether investors are willing to buy assets into an extended holiday weekend. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

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