August 24, 2021

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) -Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open on Tuesday as a full U.S. approval of a COVID-19 shot boosted shares of energy and travel-related companies, while gains in technology stocks put the Nasdaq on track for fresh highs.

The approval helped major U.S. stock indexes end Monday sharply higher, with the benchmark S&P 500 hitting an intra-day record peak, driven by a jump in energy and industrial shares.

The momentum extended on Tuesday as oil majors Chevron Corp and ExxonMobil Corp added about 1% each. Shares of major Wall Street banks also edged higher.

Cruise operators including Carnival Corp rose about 1%, while online travel agency TripAdvisor and casino companies MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts added between 1.4% and 2.8% on hopes that the approval would increase vaccination rates in the United States and spark a stronger rebound in travel and leisure activities.

A surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the highly contagious Delta variant has whipsawed Wall Street this month on concerns about a slowing economic recovery from the health crisis.

Still, a strong earnings season and hopes that the Federal Reserve will maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy stance put the S&P 500 on course for its seventh straight monthly gain, with a 1.9% rise so far in August.

“We’re really still positioned for an ongoing growth and grind upward in the market because the prices reflect a need to do that for investors,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer for private wealth at Glenmede in Philadelphia.

“Expected returns on equities and other risk assets are much higher than the expected returns on bond at this point in the cycle.”

The Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium later this week will be closely watched for chair Jerome Powell’s speech, which could offer clues on the central bank’s policy-tightening timeline.

At 8:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 49 points, or 0.14%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.14%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 28.5 points, or 0.19%.

Facebook Inc, Nvidia Corp,, Google-owner Alphabet Inc and Tesla Inc inched up in premarket trading, a day after the Nasdaq Composite index hit an all-time closing high.

Best Buy Co Inc gained 5.7% after it raised its full-year comparable sales forecast, as the electronics retailer expects demand to be resilient.

Palo Alto Networks Inc jumped 11.3% as brokerages raised their price targets on the stock after the cybersecurity firm forecast full year 2022 earnings above Wall Street’s estimates.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sriraj Kalluvila)