U.S. Futures Edge Higher; Weekly Jobless Claims in Focus

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Investing.com – U.S. stocks are seen opening marginally higher Thursday, helped by positive comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ahead of key unemployment numbers.

At 7:10 AM ET (1110 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was up 50 points, or 0.2%, S&P 500 Futures traded 6 points, or 0.2%, higher, and Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 33 points, or 0.3%.

Yellen and Powell both reiterated their belief on Wednesday that the U.S. economy will see strong growth in 2021, thanks in large part to heavy doses of fiscal and monetary stimuli.

This is before the U.S. government’s plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, which could result in further investment of approaching $4 trillion, is agreed upon by lawmakers.

UBS Global Wealth Management sees 5% to 10% upside for global stock markets, based on expectations that the economic recovery will broaden out and accelerate over the course of the year.

Stocks are expected to rise even as bond yields edged higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield edged up to 1.61% Thursday, still significantly below the 14-month high of 1.75% seen last week.

With the focus on the strength of the economic recovery, the weekly jobless claims data, due at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT), will be studied carefully for signs that the employment market is improving along with vaccinations and the easing of business restrictions. They are expected to have fallen to 730,000 from 770,000 the previous week. The final reading of fourth-quarter GDP is also due at the same time.

In the corporate sector, AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) will be in focus after the U.K.-Swedish drugmaker updated its U.S. trial results to show a slightly lower efficacy rate for its Covid-19 vaccine. 

Nike (NYSE:NKE) stock fell over 4% premarket, with the sportswear retailer among a number of Western companies facing a backlash in China after cutting ties with cotton suppliers in the province of Xinjiang.

Oil prices fell Thursday, reversing Wednesday’s gains on the Suez Canal blockage. This passage remains plugged, but demand concerns have returned to the fore. While the focus has been on lockdowns in Europe, crucial developing economies like India and Brazil have also seen rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. 

Additionally, U.S. crude stocks jumped by 1.9 million barrels last week, according to official data from the Energy Information Administration.

U.S. crude futures traded 1.6% lower at $60.18 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1.4% to $63.53. 

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,731.75/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1814.

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