Stocks – U.S. Futures Mixed in Cautious Trading; Initial Claims Data Due

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Investing.com – U.S. stocks are set to trade mostly lower Thursday, with investors warily waiting for the latest unemployment data after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s sobering update about the state of the U.S. economy.

At 7:30 AM ET (1130 GMT), S&P 500 futures traded 12 points, or 0.4%, lower, Nasdaq futures were down 36 points, or 0.4% higher. The Dow futures contract 127 points, or 0.6%.

In prepared remarks delivered during a webcast Wednesday, Powell said the scope and speed of the economic downturn are “significantly worse” than any recession since World War II and warned the economic outlook was highly uncertain.

Powell also suggested that additional support will likely be needed from the federal government, but the latest attempt by House Democrats to put together a relief bill to the tune of $3 trillion has run into opposition from the GOP-controlled Senate.

With this in mind, eyes will turn to the release of the latest initial jobless claims data, at 8:30 AM. This week’s claims are expected to come in at 2.5 million, down from about 3.17 million the week before, but still meaning that over 35 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefit from the start of the coronavirus crisis.

In the corporate sector, Uber’s (NYSE:UBER) move to buy food delivery service GrubHub (NYSE:GRUB) and merge it with its own UberEats service is still on, according to The Wall Street Journal, despite the ride-hailing company refusing to pay the price initially demanded by GrubHub.

Additionally, chip equipment maker Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) is scheduled to report earnings after the bell, and is expected to report a profit of 94 cents per share on revenue of about $4.1 billion, 

Oil futures gained Thursday, helped by the International Energy Agency stating the outlook has “improved somewhat,” with demand a little stronger than expected and supply reined in by a brutal price crash.

Adding to the positive tone was the news late Wednesday that U.S. crude stocks fell by 745,000 barrels to 531.5 million barrels in the week to May 8, marking the first decline since January.

At 7:30 AM ET, U.S. crude June futures traded 3.4% higher — well off the day’s highs — at $26.16 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 3.1% to $30.09.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,721.70/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0791, down 0.2%.

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