U.S. Stock Futures Fluctuate, Pointing To Choppy Trading

Stocks futures have fluctuated over the course of morning trading on Thursday, suggesting a lackluster performance on Wall Street following recent strength. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 143 points.

Profit taking may lead to some initial weakness on Wall Street as traders cash in on the strong upward move seen in recent sessions.

The major averages have climbed well off their March lows amid optimism about an economic recovery, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq within striking distance of its record highs.

Negative sentiment may also be generated in reaction to a report from the Labor Department showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by less than expected in the week ended May 30th.

The report said initial jobless claims tumbled to 1.877 million, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 2.126 million.

However, economists had expected jobless claims to slump to 1.800 million from the 2.123 million originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims pulled back further off the record high of 6.867 million set in the week ended March 28th, although the number of new claims since the coronavirus lockdowns now exceeds 42.6 million.

Nonetheless, stock futures briefly turned positive after the European Central Bank announced additional stimulus to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECB announced that it will increase its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by 600 billion euros. The bank announced plans to purchase 750 billion euros of government bonds back in March.

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the upward trend seen in recent sessions. The rally lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 three-month closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq continued to close in on the record highs set in February.

The major averages pulled back off their highs going into the close but remained firmly positive. The Dow surged up 527.24 points or 2.1 percent to 26,269.89, the Nasdaq advanced 74.54 points or 0.8 percent to 9,682.91 and the S&P 500 jumped 42.05 points or 1.4 percent to 3,122.87.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, although China’s Shanghai Composite Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.6 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.48 to $36.81 a barrel after climbing $0.48 to $37.29 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after plunging $29.20 to $1,704.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are jumping $15.10 to $1,719.90 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.71 yen versus the 108.90 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1238 compared to yesterday’s $1.233.

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