By Anna Hirtenstein 

U.S. stock futures rose slightly Thursday as investors awaited details of the incoming Biden administration's plans for a fresh coronavirus relief package.

Securities tied to the S&P 500 climbed 0.1%, potentially extending Wednesday's advance, which lifted the broad-market index to its second-highest level ever. Those linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3%.

Jobless claims data Thursday showed that 965,000 people applied for unemployment insurance in the week ended Jan. 9, a sizable increase compared with the previous week and higher than economists had expected, as the surge in Covid-19 cases and fresh business restrictions weighed on the labor market.

Meantime, all eyes are on a speech expected Thursday from President-elect Joe Biden that is set to detail the scale of his proposed spending package to support households and businesses through the pandemic.

Additional stimulus would be favorable for equity markets and reinforce expectations for economic growth, said Luc Filip, head of private banking investments at SYZ Private Banking.

"How it will be implemented down to the real economy, down to small companies, that will be key," he said.

Stock markets have been largely muted this week, despite the political turmoil engulfing Washington. President Trump was impeached Wednesday for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, becoming the only president to have been impeached twice. With Mr. Trump leaving office in less than a week, markets largely viewed the move as symbolic rather than practical.

BlackRock shares rose 1.1% in premarket trading after the world's largest money-management company said fourth-quarter profit rose 19%, exceeding analysts' estimates. Delta Air Lines rose 2.6% after it said it ended 2020 at a loss but expected to have access to up to $19 billion of liquidity in the first quarter.

Thursday will also see Poshmark, an online marketplace for secondhand goods, begin trading.

Ahead of the opening bell, Tesla shares slipped 1.3% after regulators asked the car maker to recall about 158,000 vehicles over safety concerns. Johnson & Johnson rose 1.4% after it said its experimental Covid-19 shot generated an immune responses from a single dose, rather than two.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.4%. Italian 10-year government-bond yields rose to 0.649% from 0.587% Wednesday after former Premier Matteo Renzi said his party was leaving the ruling coalition. This move could trigger an election, as it removes the prime minister's majority in parliament.

Italy is often seen as the weakest link among major economies in the eurozone, and political drama has previously sparked sharp selloffs in the country's government debt. "This is political noise, but still something that creates uncertainties," said Mr. Filip.

Among major European shares, Fiat Chrysler led decliners, falling 8.9% ahead of the distribution of a special dividend. Carrefour fell 5.1% after France said it might block Canadian Alimentation Couche-Tard's nearly $20 billion bid for the French supermarket chain. Peugeot rose close to 4% after a report suggested sales recovered in the second half of 2020, although they were still down for the full year.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.9% after data showed that China's export growth in December declined from November. Most other major benchmarks rose, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Japan's Nikkei 225 both up 0.9%.

China's biggest tech companies rose after The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is expected to let Americans continue to invest in them, after weighing a ban. Alibaba Group gained 5% and Tencent Holdings climbed 5.6%.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET at a virtual event hosted by Princeton University's Bendheim Center for Finance.

Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers, said she would be watching closely for any mention of what the central bank might do about the recent rise in Treasury bond yields.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.098% from 1.089% Wednesday. It has traded above 1% since the first week of January, after spending most of 2020 below the threshold.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 14, 2021 09:02 ET (14:02 GMT)

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