Wall Street set to open near record high as Biden takes office; Netflix soars

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open near record highs on Wednesday, as Joe Biden prepared to take charge as U.S. President, while Netflix jumped after saying it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its TV shows and movies.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Shares of the world’s largest streaming service surged 13% in premarket trading, helping boost futures tracking the broader tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index.

U.S. stocks ended higher on Tuesday after Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to “act big” to save the coronavirus-ravaged economy and worry about debt later.

Biden, due to take over as the 46th President of the United States just after noon (1700 GMT) on Wednesday, will waste little time turning the page on the Trump era, advisers said, signing a raft of 15 executive actions on issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the economy to climate change.

Bets on a bigger pandemic relief plan and higher infrastructure spending under the Biden administration, and a Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress have been pivotal in driving major U.S. stock indexes to all-time peaks this month.

“It’s all about the inauguration, focusing first on Biden being placed into the office and then it’s going to be about earnings,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“Earnings so far from the banks have come in pretty much better than expected and the markets reacted somewhat positively to that.”

Wrapping up quarterly reports from major U.S. lenders, Morgan Stanley climbed about 2% after it posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on strength of its trading business and confirmed a $10-billion share buyback plan.

S&P 500 company earnings are expected to rise by 24% in 2021 after falling 15% in 2020, according to Refinitiv data. With stock market valuations sitting close to a 20-year high, investors are hoping corporate results and profit outlooks will help them determine to what degree the valuations are justified.

At 08:13 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were up 58 points, or 0.19% and S&P 500 E-minis were up 16.25 points, or 0.43%. Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 120 points, or 0.92%.

UnitedHealth Group Inc slid 0.5% after the health insurer’s quarterly profit slumped nearly 38%, weighed by costs related to its programs to make COVID-19 testing and treatment more accessible for its customers.

Procter & Gamble Co gained 1.4% after the consumer products giant raised its full-year sales forecast for a second time as it benefited from high demand for its cleaning products and the government’s stimulus program.

Boeing Co added 0.9% after Berenberg upgraded the stock to “hold” from “sell”, saying the worst has passed and restarting of 737 MAX aircraft deliveries in December marked a turning point towards planemaker’s financial recovery.

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