Inventory futures are flat as merchants monitor stimulus conversations

An artist named Theodore Tsinias wrapping himself next to the Charging Bull on May 25, 2020 in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States, to draw his attention to world behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tayfun Coskin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures changed little on Thursday night as Wall Street weighed the potential for additional fiscal stimulus, earnings news, and coronavirus treatment.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 18 points, or less than 0.1%. S&P 500 futures were down 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures posted marginal gains.

Intel shares fell more than 9% in after-hours trading after mixed quarterly results for the chip maker were released. The company's earnings were in line with analysts 'expectations, but data center business revenue fell short of analysts' estimates.

Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences was up 4% after the Food and Drug Administration approved the company's remdesivir drug to treat the coronavirus.

The Dow and S&P 500 gained 0.5% each during regular trading, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2% after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were making progress in their negotiations on fiscal incentives.

"If we didn't make progress, I wouldn't spend five seconds in these talks … This is nothing more than a serious attempt. I believe that both sides want to reach an agreement," said Pelosi.

However, Pelosi also softened expectations that Democrats and Republicans could reach an agreement before the elections, saying it could take "a while" for a bill to be written and signed.

Traders have been keeping an eye on Washington for the past few weeks as they assessed the prospect for enforcement of new coronavirus remedies. Several market experts and economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, believe it is imperative that lawmakers reach an agreement on another stimulus package.

"The government is still trying to put together another economic aid package," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group. "Despite the July end of unemployment benefits under the CARES bill, US economic dynamism is remarkably healthy two and a half months later."

Paulsen's comment came after the release of much better-than-expected US unemployment data on Thursday.

The moves on Thursday came before the second debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The debate started at 9 p.m. ET and is the last one before the November 3rd presidential election.

Biden had a head start in most national polls when the possibility of a so-called blue wave increased. For some market experts, a democratic sweep could cause stock prices to surge in the short term. However, legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones warned Thursday that this scenario could put long-term pressure on stocks.

"I think a blue wave and the Biden tax plan hurt financial assets a lot in the long run," he said on CNBC's Squawk Box.

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