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* Travel stocks lead gains, tech and banks also rise
* Ford up on upbeat forecast for electric pickup production
* Futures up: Dow 0.38%, S&P 0.34%, Nasdaq 0.23% (Adds comments, updates prices throughout)
By Shreyashi Sanyal and Devik Jain
Jan 4 (Reuters) – The Dow and the S&P 500 were set for a record open on Tuesday as worries about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus subsided and travel stocks bounced, while Ford gained on upbeat electric pickup production forecast.
Equity markets across the globe bounced for the second straight day of trading in 2022, with the World Health Organization saying more evidence is emerging that the coronavirus variant is affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than previous variants.
Travel stocks led premarket advances with a 2.1% rise in Carnival Corp leading gains among cruise operators, while American Airlines gained 1.5%.
Big technology stocks that led gain in the previous session also rose, with Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Meta Platforms Inc, Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc gaining between 0.1% and 0.5%.
Value-oriented bank stocks including Bank of America , Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup also rose about 1% each.
“I think it’s also sort of posturing and positioning by some for the beginning of the new year. People look at the beginning of the new year as a way to reallocate assets in their portfolio to move money around,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth Management.
Pavlik said value trade could lead markets in the first half of this year on expectations of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
The U.S. central bank in December said it would be ending its pandemic-era bond buying in 2022, signaling at least three rate hikes for the year. Minutes from the meeting is expected to be released on Wednesday.
Ford Motor Co added 2.6% after the automaker said it will nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles.
General Electric Co rose 1.5% after Credit Suisse upgraded the conglomerate’s stock to “outperform” from “neutral”.
Foot Locker Inc slipped 4.0% after J.P. Morgan downgraded the sports and footwear retailer’s stock to “underweight” from “neutral”.
At 8:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 140 points, or 0.38%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.5 points, or 0.34%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 38 points, or 0.23%.
Meanwhile, data due at 10 a.m. ET is expected to show U.S. manufacturing activity eased last month from a reading of 61.1 in November. Economists polled by Reuters forecast the ISM Manufacturing PMI index to fall to 60. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
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