Nasdaq Futures Rise 173 Pts; Nvidia Deal Helps – U.S. stocks are set to open higher Monday, seeking a fresh start after last week’s tech-inspired selloff. Positive Covid vaccine news and M&A deals are driving the positive sentiment, although this week’s Federal Reserve meeting could limit gains.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), S&P 500 Futures traded 38 points, or 1.2%, higher, the Dow Futures contract rose 234 points, or 0.9%, while Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 173 points, or 1.6%. 

Over the weekend, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) announced it had resumed late-stage trials of its leading Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which it is developing with the University of Oxford, after the relevant U.K. authorities gave their approval.

Additionally, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) CEO Albert Bourla said the company’s own candidate, co-developed with German drug maker BioNTech, has a “good chance” of being rolled out to Americans by the end of the year. 

This positive news has been widely welcomed given on Friday the White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci described the current data on the U.S. Covid-19 outbreak as “disturbing.”  He added, “we’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000.” 

Sentiment was also helped by the news of Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) buying chipmaker Arm Holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion, while Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) now looks in pole position to be TikTok’s U.S. technology partner. Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) will also acquire biopharmaceutical company Immunomedics (NASDAQ:IMMU) for $21 billion.

Last week, the S&P 500 posted its worst week since late June and the Nasdaq Composite since March as the tech sector, the best-performing market sector year to date, was hit by sustained selling.

“Despite the sharp sell-off in the past week, we remain optimistic about the path of the U.S. equity market in coming months,” said strategists at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), in a note. “Since the financial crisis, the typical S&P 500 pullback of 5% or more has lasted for 20 trading days and extended by 7% from peak to trough, matching the magnitude of the most recent pullback if not the speed.”

The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, and is expected to update its projections for the economic and interest rate outlook, which will include forecasts for 2023 for the first time. The central bank adopted a new approach last month to meeting its 2% inflation target. 

Oil prices weakened Monday despite another fierce storm in the Gulf of Mexico causing rigs to shut down production.

Tropical Storm Sally is gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to be a category 2 hurricane. This is the second weather disruption to oil production in less than a month, with Hurricane Laura forcing shutdowns less than three weeks earlier. 

U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% lower at $37.22 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.3% to $39.71. 

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,952/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.1873.

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