Dow Futures Rise 50 Pts; Weekly Initial Jobless Claims Data Due

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By Peter Nurse — U.S. stocks are seen opening slightly higher Thursday, continuing the previous session’s positive tone ahead of the release of key weekly unemployment data.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was up 50 points or 0.2%, S&P 500 Futures traded 11 points or 0.3% higher, and Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 65 points or 0.5%.

The main Wall Street indices closed sharply higher Wednesday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining over 400 points or 1.3%, boosted by ISM data which showed services activity was stronger than expected in July.

That release suggested that the services sector, which makes up the bulk of economic activity in the U.S., was holding up reasonably well to the aggressive monetary tightening, and poured cold water over the theory that the U.S. economy was already in recession.

The weekly initial jobless claims data are due at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT) and are expected to show a slight uptick from the previous week’s 256,000 claims, potentially to the biggest number since mid-January.

This will be studied carefully after job openings data earlier this week showed a slight cooling in the labor market, and ahead of Friday’s widely watched official jobs report.

Additionally, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester is due to speak later Thursday, and investors will be looking to see whether she continues this week’s seemingly coordinated Fedspeak pointing to further hefty interest rate hikes ahead.

The Bank of England continued the theme, lifting its benchmark interest rates by 50 basis points to 1.75%, its sixth consecutive hike, as it battles inflation running at a four-decade high.

Turning to the corporate sector, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is likely to be in the spotlight Thursday after the Financial Times reported that the Japanese venture capital company SoftBank (OTC:SFTBY) has agreements in place to sell over half of its remaining stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant.

It also beat market expectations for revenue in the quarter ending in late June, even though revenue growth was flat for the first time due to the impact of the Shanghai lockdown.

There are more earnings to digest, with Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) reporting a 31% fall in quarterly profit on Thursday, hurt by lower prices of diabetes drug Humalog and Insulin Lispro injection.

The likes of Kellogg (NYSE:K) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) are also among those scheduled to report quarterly numbers.

Oil prices edged higher Thursday, rebounding after the previous session’s sharp losses on the back of data suggesting weakening U.S. demand as well as a small output increase by OPEC+ producers.

Both benchmarks fell by around 4%, to their weakest levels since February, on Wednesday after data from the Energy Information Administration showed crude inventories rose 4.5 million barrels last week and gasoline stockpiles gained 200,000 barrels.

Additionally, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, agreed to increase production by 100,000 barrels per day in September.

By 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $91.36 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.3% to $97.08.

Additionally, gold futures rose 1.2% to $1,798.40/oz, while EUR/USD rose 0.3% to 1.0194.

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