- US futures edged higher on Monday in an atmosphere of cautious optimism about the recovery.
- Yet investors were keeping a wary eye on Europe, where coronavrius cases are soaring again.
- Elsewhere, oil prices ticked higher after falling on Friday and bitcoin resumed its slide.
US stock futures inched higher Monday as investors remained cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery, at the start of a trading week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.27%, after the benchmark index slipped slightly Friday. Nasdaq 100 futures were 0.31% higher, and Dow Jones futures were up 0.25%, indicating a positive start to trading later. US stock markets will be shut Thursday for Thanksgiving Day and will close early on Friday.
The tone was somewhat positive in Europe, even as investors weighed the reimposition of pandemic restrictions by governments as COVID-19 cases soar. The continent-wide Stoxx 600 climbed 0.16% in early trading.
Stocks have remained strong even though inflation has hit a 31-year high in the US and is rising sharply in other advanced economies, prompting central banks to consider cutting back their stimulus packages.
On Friday, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said the US economy is in a "very strong position." He raised the possibility that the Fed may start reducing its asset purchases more quickly. Investors will closely watch the minutes from the central bank's November meeting, due for release Wednesday.
Also in focus is President Joe Biden's pick for the next Fed chair, with the choice seen as between incumbent Jerome Powell and noted dove Fed Governor Lael Brainard. Biden is expected to announce his decision this week.
However, soaring coronavirus cases in Europe are increasingly on the radar of investors, who worry the trend could be replicated around the world and impact the global economy. Fresh restrictions keeping people at home could hit not just re-emerging sectors such as hospitality but also holiday shopping, as well as businesses in general.
Germany, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among the countries to bring in tough new rules to try to curb the fourth wave of the virus. Austria's fourth lockdown kicked in Monday, and the country is planning to make vaccinations mandatory for all citizens.
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Oil futures recovered somewhat from a sharp fall on Friday, when prices were driven lower by concerns about a demand drop in Europe and signs the US and Japan might give in to calls to release strategic reserves.
US bond yields, which move inversely to prices, gained slightly. The key 10-year Treasury note yield was up 2.7 basis points to 1.563%. The 2-year yield, which is the most sensitive to interest-rate changes, rose 2.4 basis points to 0.529%.
The dollar index climbed 0.05% to 96.08. It has risen sharply in recent months as the Fed has publicly weighed raising interest rates in 2022.
In crypto markets, bitcoin 2.5% to $57,423 on the Bitstamp exchange, after inching back up to around $60,000 over the weekend. Analysts have said crypto markets have been affected by a number of factors, including tax changes in President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill; renewed negative attention from Chinese authorities; and a natural pullback after hitting record highs.