U.S. stock market futures were poised for a big start to the short week as the S&P 500 crossed the 3,000-point threshold while investors bet on an economic rebound and a COVID-19 vaccine, plus stocks to watch today in the Money & Markets Opening Bell.

The Top Story

The global easing of coronavirus lockdowns and business restarts are boosting investor optimism over a short economic recovery as traders return from the long weekend.

The Spanish government said foreign vacationers should be able to return to the country in July while Great Britain plans to reopen shops and department stores next month.

That has injected new life into the U.S. stock market as post-holiday futures were up big — the S&P 500 moved over the 3,000-point mark.

Beaten down travel-related stocks gained in premarket trading with United Airlines Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: UAL), online travel agency Expedia Group Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE) and hotel operator Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR) all up about 6% each.

Wall Street’s main indexes had a mixed closing Friday as U.S.-China tensions heated up but still managed to log more than 3% gains for the week, fueled by hopes of an eventual coronavirus vaccine and easing of virus-related curbs.

As of 9:20 a.m., Dow Jones futures pushed 2.5% higher. S&P 500 futures were up 2.2% and Nasdaq Composite futures jumped 1.6%.

Stocks to Watch Today

Sanofy SA (Nasdaq: SNY) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:

) — French-based Sanofy SA is selling its stake in Regeneron — worth about $13 billion — and Regeneron said it will repurchase another $5 billion in stock owned by Sanofy. Regeneron shares were down 3.3% while Sanofy shares moved 0.2% higher.

Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX) — The Maryland-based vaccine development company saw its shares jump nearly 20% as it starts the first phase of a clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine. It is pushing ahead with the trial in the United States and could expand to other countries.

AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) — The aftermarket parts retailer reported quarterly earnings of $14.39 per share, beating Wall Street expectations by $0.59 per share. It also beat revenue forecasts — falling just 1% rather than the 6.3% analysts projected. Shares of AutoZone jumped 1.1%.

Merck Buys Austrian Company for COVID-19 Vaccine

New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) said it is working on two coronavirus vaccines — one as part of an acquisition of an Austrian company — as several big drugmakers press for a vaccine.

On Tuesday, Merck said it purchased privately held Themis Bioscience in Vienna, which is working with a French nonprofit organization and the University of Pittsburgh on vaccine development.

Merck is partnering with the scientific research organization IAVI on the development of a second vaccine. Shares of Merck were up 3.1% in premarket trading.

OECD Countries’ GDP Falls 1.8% in Q1 2020

The gross domestic product of the 37-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) dropped 1.8% during the first quarter of 2020.

That is the largest GDP contraction for OECD nations since 2009. The OECD includes the “major seven” of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

NYSE Trading Floor Set to Reopen Today

Traders on the New York Stock Exchange are returning to the trading floor today as the nation ramps up reopening the economy.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the NYSE trading floor features plexiglass barriers to keep traders apart and the number of traders allowed on the floor is just a quarter of the usual number.

Masks are also required of all traders and they must avoid public transit to and from the exchange.

What We’re Reading

These 6% Dividends Looks Safe During Volatility — But They’ll Cost You (Money & Markets)

Latin America’s Largest Airline, LATAM, Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (CNN Business)

The Bull & The Bear: Debunking the Difficulty Myths of Options Trading (Money & Markets)

Earnings Report

Here are the companies releasing earnings reports today:

AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO)

Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (NYSE: BAH)

CBL & Associaties Properties Inc. (NYSE: CBL)

Evogene Ltd. (Nasdaq: EVGN)

Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. (Nasdaq: MGIC)

Check back each morning before the opening bell for stocks to watch today with Opening Bell, here on Money & Markets