Stock futures point higher as Biden talks with China’s Xi

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U.S. equity futures are pointing to gains ahead of Thursday’s trading session.

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The major futures indexes suggest a rise of 0.2% at the opening bell.

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President Biden held his first conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since taking office as relations between the two countries remain tense.

“President Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people’s security, prosperity, health, and way of life, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said. “President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan.”

BIDEN SPEAKS TO CHINA’S XI JINPING FOR 1ST TIME SINCE TAKING OFFICE

The White House said Biden and Xi “also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation.”

Thursday’s earnings will focus on a slew of food-related companies: PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg, Pilgrim’s Pride, Molson Coors and TreeHouse Foods. The afternoon will be dominated by media and entertainment giant Walt Disney.

On the economic front, the Labor Department will report on new claims for unemployment benefits for last week. Watch for a decline of 22,000 from the prior week’s much lower-than-expected reading to 757,000. Continuing claims, which track the total number of unemployed workers collecting benefits, are anticipated to drop to 4.49 million, which would be the fourth straight weekly decline

In Europe, London’s FTSE added 0.4%, Germany’s DAX gained 0.4% and France’s CAC rose 0.2%.

Many markets in Asia were closed for the Lunar New Year and other holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5%, markets were closed in Tokyo and Shanghai.

Markets have been lifted by surprisingly good company earnings reports, indications that a recent surge in new coronavirus cases is easing, progress in the distribution of vaccines and signs that lawmakers in Washington are moving toward delivering another financial boost for the economy.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 31437.8 +61.97 +0.20%
SP500 S&P 500 3909.88 -1.35 -0.03%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13972.533874 -35.16 -0.25%

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1% to 3,909.88 after swinging between a gain of 0.5% and a loss of 0.7%.

The Dow rose 0.2% to 31,437.80. The Nasdaq lost 0.3% to 13,972.53.

Cannabis stocks surged as members of the same online forum that hyped up GameStop, AMC Entertainment and other beaten-down companies in recent weeks began encouraging each other to snap up shares in marijuana companies.

Canadian cannabis company Sundial Growers vaulted 78.8%. The stock is up more than 500% so far this year. Shares in Aphria and Tilray, Canadian companies that agreed to combine in December, also rose. Aphria gained 10.7%, adding to its 280% gain this year, while Tilray jumped 50.9%. It’s up more than 670% this year.

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In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 30 cents to $58.37 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 32 cents to $58.68 on Wednesday. Brent, the international standard for pricing crude oil, declined 34 cents to $61.13 per barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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