Stock futures tick higher after concerns over capital gain tax hike prompt selling

Traders working on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Source: NYSE

Futures contracts, pegged to major U.S. stock indices, soared at the start of the overnight session as investors were ready to end a down week for stocks as the White House could seek a capital gains tax hike.

S&P 500 futures rose less than 0.1% while contracts linked to the Dow added 16 points. Nasdaq 100 contracts also moved north of the flatline.

The post-close moves came after a tumultuous meeting for stocks after several news outlets reported Thursday afternoon that President Joe Biden is expected to propose much higher capital gains taxes for the rich.

Bloomberg News reported that Biden plans to increase capital gains tax up to 43.4% for wealthy Americans.

The proposal would increase the capital gains rate for those earning $ 1 million or more from the current 20% to 39.6%, Bloomberg News said, citing people familiar with the matter. Reuters and the New York Times later coincided with the headlines.

Though headlines about capital gains taxes appeared to weigh on Thursday afternoon sentiment, the sale was tempered by the tough battle that such a proposal would face in a divided Senate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 300 points by the end of regular trading. At its lowest point, the blue chip benchmark fell by 420 points. The S&P 500 erased previous gains and closed 0.9% lower while the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.9%.

For weeks the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq have fallen 1.2%, 1.1% and 1.6% respectively.

Before the news hit, major averages traded slightly higher as investors sifted through broadly positive corporate earnings and economic data.

Both the chip maker Intel and the social media platform Snap reported profits for the first calendar quarter on Thursday after the closing bell.

Although Intel’s sales and earnings were better than Wall Street expected, earnings forecasts were released in the second quarter that fell short of analysts’ hopes. Intel, which expects earnings per share to be $ 1.05 for the next quarter, posted a 3.1% decline in its expanded trading.

Snap shares rose 4.7% in after-hours trading after seeing accelerated sales growth and strong user numbers in the first quarter. Snap broke even on balance with sales of $ 770 million.

Companies so far have largely managed to beat Wall Street’s predictions for the earnings season. Even so, strong first quarter results have been met with a tepid reaction from investors who have not yet bought shares in companies with some of the best performing.

Strategists say that already high ratings and near record highs for the S&P 500 and Dow have kept traders’ excitement in check. But even after Thursday’s losses, the indices are within 1.5% of their all-time high.

The Department of Labor said Thursday morning that initial unemployment insurance claims totaled 547,000, down from the Dow Jones estimate of 603,000.

Later that day, Republicans rolled out a counteroffer to Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan. The GOP set a $ 568 billion framework that includes funding for bridges, airports, roads and reservoirs. Tax increases are not included.

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