Wall Street May Open Slightly Higher

Modestly higher futures point to a slightly positive start for U.S. stocks Thursday morning.

Fairly strong quarterly earnings from some top name companies and dovish comments from the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about the central bank’s policies are also expected to aid sentiment.

Powell stated Wednesday that the central bank’s accommodative policies still need to stay in place for a considerable time, saying the employment picture is a “long way” from where it needs to be.

On the data front, the Labor Department’s report on U.S. weekly initial jobless claims is due out at 8:30 AM ET.

On the earnings front, PepsiCo Inc (PEP) said net income attributable to the company grew to $1.85 billion or $1.33 per share in the fourth quarter, up from $1.77 billion or $1.26 per share in the year-ago quarter. Core earnings for the quarter were $1.47 per share, compared to $1.45 per share in the year-ago quarter.

The U.S. market ended mixed after a lackluster performance on Wednesday as stocks showed a lack of direction amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook.

The Dow inched up a new record closing higher, rising 61.96 point or 0.2 percent to 31,437.80. The Nasdaq ended lower by 35.16 points or 0.3 percent at 13,972.53 and the S&P 500 edged down 1.35 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,909.88.

In overseas trading, Asian stocks ended mixed amid thin holiday trades on Thursday. Markets in South Korea, Taiwan and China are closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. The Japanese markets were also shuttered in observance of National Foundation Day.

U.S. stimulus hopes offered some support after a Labor Department report showed tame consumer price inflation in January and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the U.S. is still “very far” from a strong labor market.

European stocks are turning in a mixed performance in largely cautious moves by investors amid a slew of earnings reports.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures are down $0.37 or 0.6% at $58.31 a barrel, sliding on profit taking after eight successive days of gains.

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