U.S. stock index futures on Friday pointed to gains on Wall Street, potentially halting a four day string of losses, as investors weighed COVID-19 vaccine mandates announced by President Joe Biden to fight the delta variant of coronavirus that some worry is slowing the economic recovery.

How are stock-index futures trading?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures

climbed nearly 160 points, or 0.5%, to 34,912

S&P 500 futures

gained 18.25 points, or 0.4%, to 4,501.25

Nasdaq-100 futures

rose 65.50 points, or 0.4%, to 15,616

On Thursday, the Dow industrials

fell 151.69 points, or 0.4%, to end at 34,879.38, the S&P 500 index

closed down 20.79 points, or 0.5%, to 4,493.28, and the Nasdaq Composite Index

finished at 15,248.25, a loss of 38.38 points, or 0.3%.

The Dow and the S&P 500 have seen four straight days of losses, the longest losing streak for both since June 18, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

What’s driving the market?

The bulls were back in force early Friday to cap a holiday-shortened week that has seen stocks suffer losses for four sessions consecutive losses and may result in losses for a second week.

The week’s slump comes amid concerns about the impact of the delta variant of the coronavirus in recent months on global economic growth, chiefly among the unvaccinated.

Biden on Thursday announced new vaccine mandates, including a requirement that executive-branch employees as well as federal contractors vaccinate, with no test alternative. He is also discussing a Labor Department rule requiring businesses with 100 or more workers to ensure their employees are vaccinated or show a negative test result weekly or more frequently.

The U.S. is averaging just under 150,000 new cases a day, with 53% of the population fully vaccinated, which is well behind many countries in Europe and Canada, according to a New York Times tracker.

While the focus is on rising COVID cases, markets are also watching the Federal Reserve for the timing of the tapering its bond-buying purchases. Recent comments by policy makers have suggested to some that the Federal Reserve could announce its tapering plan sooner rather than later. Investors will have to wait until Sept. 21-22 for the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting. However, there is already speculation that the Fed will set the stage at its coming meeting for an announcement of a plan to taper its monthly asset purchases at its early November gathering, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Read: Fed’s Kaplan, Rosengren to sell stocks to avoid perception of conflict of interest

Meanwhile, a report on wholesale inflation came in hotter than expected. The U.S. producer-price index rose 0.7% in August, the Labor Department said Friday, down from a 1% jump in July but up from average forecast of economists polled by WSJ for a 0.6% rise.

A number of Fed officials have described inflation as short-lived and economists are starting to talk about prices peaking in the wholesale sector. However, producers are still struggling with shortages, bottlenecks and transportation woes.

“We expect major central banks to remain supportive of growth, keeping rates lower for longer. This is positive for equity markets, particularly cyclical and value areas of the market,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, to clients in a note on Friday.

The European Central Bank said on Thursday that it would conduct asset purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program, or PEPP, at a “moderately slower pace” after accelerating purchases in recent quarters.

Sentiment also appeared to be getting a lift from geopolitics, with broad gains across Asia after a phone call between Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. “The call lasted 90 minutes with both sides putting their own spin on the call, although the civilized tone seemed to serve as a general boost to risk sentiment overnight,” said Saxo Bank’s chief investment officer, Steen Jakobsen, in a note to clients.

How are other assets trading?

The 10-year Treasury note

rose 2 basis points to 1.32%. Yields and debt prices move in opposite directions.

The dollar was trading 0.1% lower, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
which stood at around 92.34.

Gold futures were on the rise, with the December contract

up 0.2% to $1,803 an ounce.

Oil futures

rose, with West Texas Intermediate crude up 1.7% at $69.25 a barrel.

The Hang Seng

rose 1.9%. Elsewhere in Asia, the Shanghai Composite

closed 0.3% higher and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK advanced 1.2%.

European equities were mostly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600

rising 0.6% and the FTSE 100

gaining 0.4%.

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