Stock Futures Positive; Blue Chip, Biotech Leaders Get Upgrades | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Stock futures edged higher Thursday as the major indexes again eyed new highs but kept expectations contained ahead of Friday’s pending payrolls report.

XAutoplay: On | OffFutures for the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all inched up to fractional gains. Small caps outpaced the general action, sending Russell 2000 futures ahead 0.3%.

The Nasdaq, Dow and S&P 500 all continue to tick off new highs. The Nasaq and S&P 500 each logged a seventh straight daily advance on Wednesday. That’s the S&P 500’s second seven-day run since August. It’s the Nasdaq’s longest rally since a 10-day run up in July.

In addition, the Dow and the S&P 500 are each working on their fourth straight weekly advances. That marks the best string of weeks for the S&P 500 since March, and the Dow’s longest run since June.

Microsoft, Biogen Get Upgrades

The best early move among Dow industrials came from Microsoft (MSFT), up 0.7% after Canaccord Genuity upgraded the stock to buy, from hold. Microsoft has been attempting to muster the volume support necessary to break clear of a 74.52 flat base buy point.

Pfizer (PFE) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) fell to the low end of the Dow, each down 0.5%.

Apple rose a fraction, while Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon.com (AMZN) led the FANG stocks, each with 0.2% gains. Netflix posted a strong, 3% gain on Wednesday, lifting shares to within 3% of a 190.05 buy point. Amazon has been trading almost entirely below its 10-week moving average since early August, and needs to break above that line of resistance in order to start the right side of a possible basing pattern.

Crane maker Manitowoc (MTW) hoisted a 5% premarket advance. Auto racecourse operator International Speedway (ISCA) rolled out a 9% gain.

Drug stock ratings changes determined the hot and cold ends of the S&P 500 in premarket trade.

Biotech drug maker Biogen (BIIB) popped 2% to lead the index. Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight, from equal weight and raised its price target to 375, from 311. Biogen ended Wednesday’s session poised for a rebound, in a test of support at its 10-week moving average.

Celgene (CELG) dropped 2% to the bottom of the list, after Morgan Stanely trimmed its rating to underweight, from equal weight.

Jobless Claims, Fed Speeches On Deck

The market receives a healthy dose of economic news and Federal Reserve Commentary today, but investors are likely to limit their response until the Labor Department’s September payrolls report rolls out on Friday.

Weekly unemployment claims data are due from the Labor Department, along with trade balance estimates from the Commerce Department at 8:30 a.m. ET. August factory orders numbers are also due from the Commerce Department at 10 a.m. ET.

Federal Reserve bank presidents Jerome Powell, John Williams and Patrick Harker are all scheduled to speak at separate conferences this morning.

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