Market Snapshot: S&P 500 futures aim for 19th record of 2021 as investors await jobless claims


The S&P 500 index looked on track to add to its record run on Thursday, with technology shares set to help in that campaign, while the Dow looked flat, ahead of expected comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and weekly data on U.S. unemployment benefits.

How are stock benchmarks faring?

On Wednesday, the S&P 500

added 6.01 points, or 0.2%, enough to finish at a record 4,079.95, its 18th of the year. The Dow

 rose 16.02 points, or 0.1%, to close at 33,446.26, its second-highest finish ever, the Nasdaq Composite Index

shed 9.54 points, or 0.1%, ending at 13,688.84, while booking a second day in a row of losses. The small-cap oriented Russell 2000 index

slumped 1.6% to close at 2,223.05.

What’s driving the market?

A day after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting were released, the market may get more clarity from the central bank on the path forward.

Fed Chairman Powell is set to discuss the global economy at a webcast conference hosted by the International Monetary Fund at 12 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday.

On Wednesday, minutes from Fed policy makers’ March 16-17 meeting indicated concerns about the recovery in the job market which is still recovering from the COVID pandemic.

The Fed communicated that it will be “some time” before any tapering of the central bank’s monthly asset-purchase program, or before benchmark interest rates are lifted from current levels near 0%.

That sentiment may be enough to keep markets aloft—at least for the moment.

“The minutes from the [Federal Open Market Committee] March meeting didn’t reveal anything new, but a reiteration of the Fed’s supportive stance appears to have been a tonic for the markets,” wrote Sophie Griffiths, market analyst at Oanda, in a daily note.

Fed officials also played down fears of rising inflation, which have gripped the market and helped to spur a climb in benchmark bond yields.

“Policymakers at the Federal Reserve believe any rise in inflation will be temporary and consider it necessary to continue supporting the economy until recovery is on firmer ground,” the analyst said.

Weekly jobless benefit claims set to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET will be eyed for further evidence that the economy is bouncing back, responding to vaccine rollouts and a $1.9 trillion fiscal COVID aid package.

Rising bonds yields have hurt the appetite for speculative stocks, including those in the technology and related sectors that have prospered amid pandemic lockdown measures.

The 10-year Treasury note yield

was steady on Thursday at around 1.65%. Bond prices rise as yields fall.

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