European stocks hit a new record highs on Thursday, buoyed by optimism in Britain over easing lockdown restrictions, while the benign outlook on US interest rates revealed in the latest FOMC Minutes where the Fed indicated it will maintain its commitment to supportive policy, helped push S&P futures to new all time highs after the cash index closed at a record on Wednesday. Treasury yields dropped, the dollar slipped and crude oil fell as the pandemic worsened in key regions just as OPEC+ prepares to add supply over the coming months.
At 7:30 a.m. EDT, Dow E-minis were flat, S&P 500 stock futures up 13.75 points or 0.34% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 122 points, or 0.89%. The S&P 500 and the Dow ended a choppy session near record highs on Wednesday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is still more than 3% below its February all-time high.
On Wednesday, the Fed acknowledged an improving economic outlook buoyed by massive fiscal spending and accelerating vaccinations in minutes from its latest meeting which showed members felt the economy was still far short of target and were in no rush to scale back their $120 billion a month of bond buying. Policymakers noted it would be “some time” before conditions improve enough for the Fed to rein in its support. Between the commitment to low rates and speculation that Biden’s infrastructure plan will be lowered down, interest rates resumed their decline. Elsewhere, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen unveiled details of a plan to bring back about $2 trillion in corporate profits into the U.S. tax net. That would help fund the government’s spending initiatives, potentially reducing reliance on more borrowing that could drive rates higher.