Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures struggle for direction ahead of jobless claims data


U.S. stock-index futures hovered on either side of unchanged Thursday morning as investors dug through a heavy round of corporate earnings reports and awaited the latest round of weekly data on jobless claims.

What are major indexes doing?
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

    rose 8 points to 34,024.
  • S&P 500 futures

    were down 3.55 points, or 0.1%, at 4,161.25.
  • Nasdaq-100 futures

    fell 10 points, or 0.1%, to 13,909.25..

On Wednesday, stocks ended higher after back-to-back declines, with the Dow

rising 316.01 points, or 0.9%. The S&P 500

gained 0.9%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite

jumped 1.1%. The small-cap Russell 2000 index

jumped 2.4%.

What’s driving the market?

Stock futures prices were steady early Thursday after Wednesday saw a resurgence of the reflation trade — bets that sectors set to benefit from an economic reopening will outperform other assets — with gains for energy, materials and financials leading gains for the S&P 500 while the small-cap Russell 2000 outperformed its blue-chip peers, noted Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM.

“It is only natural to expect markets to take a breather after posting a string of record highs earlier in the month. After all, technical indicators had been highlighting overbought conditions of late,” he said, in a note.

But with the Cboe Volatility Index
a measure of expected volatility for the S&P 500, trading below 20 and near its long-term average and 10-year Treasury yields
steady after falling back from 14-month highs, the environment remains conducive for further stock market gains, Tan said.

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The European Central Bank is expected to leave policy unchanged when it delivers a statement following its Governing Council meeting at 7:45 a.m. Eastern. ECB President Christine Lagarde will hold a news conference at 8:30 a.m.

Investors will get the latest weekly tally on applications for U.S. unemployment benefits at 8:30 a.m. First-time claims are expected to rise to 603,000 in the week ended April 17, up from 576,000 a week earlier.

Data on U.S. March existing home sales is due at 10 a.m., with the seasonally adjusted annual pace expected to slow to 6.11 million from 6.22 million in February. March leading economic indicators are also due at 10 a.m.

Which companies are in focus?
  • AT&T Inc.

    shares rose 1% after reporting first-quarter results early Thursday.
  • Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

    were 0.8% in premarket action after the fast-casual restaurant chain late Wednesday blew past Wall Street expectations for its first quarter, saying new menu items, continued strength of online orders and a tailwind from stimulus checks pushed its sales more than 20% higher.
  • Qualtrics International Inc.

    shares were 15% higher after the maker of employee-engagement and survey software disclosed fiscal first-quarter results late Wednesday.
  • Shares of Lam Research Corp.
    which makes the instruments that foundries use to fabricate silicon wafers, were off 0.1% after reporting record quarterly results late Wednesday.
  • Whirlpool Corp.

    shares were up 1.2% after the appliances maker reported first-quarter earnings that were above Wall Street expectations and raised its guidance.
  • Sleep Number Corp.

    late Wednesday reported first-quarter earnings above Wall Street expectation and raised its guidance, but mentioned a supply snag that hit its sales in the quarter. Shares were down 5.6%.
  • Results due ahead of the opening bell from American Airlines Group Inc. AAL, Southwest Airlines Co. LUV, Alaska Air Group Inc. ALK, Biogen Inc. BIIB, and others.

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