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Dow Futures Down 80 Pts; Jobless Claims in Focus

Stock MarketsFeb 18, 2021 12:06
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By Peter Nurse - U.S. stocks are seen opening slightly lower Thursday, consolidating after recent gains amid cautious trading ahead of key unemployment data, while the cold snap keeps oil prices elevated.  

At 7:05 AM ET (1205 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was down 80 points, or 0.3%, S&P 500 Futures traded 15 points, or 0.4%, lower, and Nasdaq 100 Futures dropped 100 points, or 0.7%. 

Stock markets struggled for a broad direction on Wednesday. Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3%, to close at a record high of 31,613.02, the S&P 500 ended marginally lower and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.6%. 

Data Wednesday pointed to a strong economic recovery, with retail sales climbing 5.3% on the month in January and producer prices climbing more sharply that expected, but the Federal Reserve’s minutes from its last meeting emphasized that its monetary stance will nonetheless remain easy for some time.  

With this in mind, investors will likely pay careful attention to the weekly initial jobless claims, due at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT).  These are expected to be around 765,000 for last week, which would be down from the 793,000 reported the previous week. Continuing claims are expected to be 4.1 million, down only slightly from 4.5 million the prior week.

Also due at the same time are housing starts for January, which are expected to be 1.66 million, down slightly from the prior month’s 1.67 million.

The corporate earnings season is starting to wrap up, but retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and hotel chain Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR)  all release its fourth-quarter numbers before the opening bell.  Walmart stock fell 4.8% in premarket after earnings fell some 9% short of forecasts and the company predicted a slowdown in sales growth this year. 

Aside from this, investors will likely focus Thursday on the Congressional hearing over the GameStop (NYSE:GME) saga on Capitol Hill, with the leaders of Melvin Capital, Citadel, Robinhood and Reddit expected to testify.  

Oil prices extended recent gains Thursday, as although the winter storm that crippled the Texas electrical grid is moving out of the state, freezing temperatures remain, hampering attempts to restore power.

U.S. Energy Information Administration oil inventory data is scheduled for release later. Stocks are expected to drop by 2.4 million barrels , following on from the industry's own estimate which showed a drop of 5.8 million on Wednesday.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% higher at $61.46 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.5% to $64.63, both contracts having earlier climbed to their highest levels since January 2020.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,781.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at $1.2068.


Dow Futures Down 80 Pts; Jobless Claims in Focus

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