Nasdaq futures fall 55 pts; jobless claims to set scene for payrolls

  • Stock Market News
Nasdaq futures fall 55 pts; jobless claims to set scene for payrolls
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse -- U.S. stocks are seen opening largely lower Thursday, as investors digest fresh comments from Fed head Jerome Powell ahead of the release of weekly unemployment data.

At 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT), the Dow futures contract traded flat, while S&P 500 futures traded 7 points, or 0.2% lower, and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 55 points, or 0.4%.

Powell returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday on the second day of his semi-annual testimony, repeating to the House Financial Services Committee his view that the Federal Reserve was prepared to quicken the pace of rate hikes if the data supported the move.

Citigroup now expects the U.S. central bank to lift its benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points at the March meeting, up from 25 basis points, and the bank also lifted its forecast for peak rates to a range of 5.5% to 5.75%.

Powell stated that both inflation and employment data had been stronger than the policymakers had expected when they last met, especially the blockbuster jobs report in early February.

Already this week private payroll and job opening data came out stronger than expected, putting the spotlight on the release of weekly initial jobless claims later in the session and then Friday’s official jobs report .

Analysts expect the economy added 205,000 jobs last month, but they are also waiting to see if January's red-hot 517,000 number will be revised.

In corporate news, Chinese e-commerce firm's (NASDAQ: JD ) fourth-quarter revenue came in marginally below expectations earlier Thursday as COVID lockdowns at the time pressured spending.

Quarterly earnings are also expected from the likes of computer software company Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ), cosmetics and beauty product retailer Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ: ULTA ), and retailer BJs Wholesale Club (NYSE: BJ ).

Oil prices traded with small gains Thursday, recovering after recent losses as disappointing Chinese economic data and the potential for further U.S. interest rate hikes raised doubts over crude demand growth this year.

Chinese factory gate prices shrank more than expected in February, data showed Thursday, suggesting manufacturing activity in the largest crude importer in the world was running well below full capacity.

Official data from the Energy Information Administration , released Wednesday, showed that U.S. crude inventories fell 1.7 million barrels last week, shrinking for the first time in 10 weeks.

By 07:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $76.74 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.2% to $82.81. Both benchmarks were down almost 4% so far this week.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,822.80/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0575.

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