US STOCKS-Lockdown easing hopes lift futures ahead of jobless claims

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
US STOCKS-Lockdown easing hopes lift futures ahead of jobless claims
Credit: © Reuters.

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* Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) drops after profit falls

* United Airlines cuts May flights by 90%, warns of job cuts

* U.S. weekly jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. ET

* Futures inch higher: Dow 0.02%, S&P 0.12%, Nasdaq 0.49%

(Adds quote, details; Updates prices)

By Medha Singh

April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, as hopes President Donald Trump would ease strict stay-at-home restrictions lifted the mood even as investors braced for another staggering jobless claims figure.

Trump is expected to announce "new guidelines" for re-opening the economy at a news conference on Thursday as he said data suggested the United States had passed the peak on new coronavirus infections. a 27% rally from its March lows, the S&P 500 index inched down this week and stands 18% below its record high, as first-quarter earnings began with U.S. banks preparing for a wave of future loan defaults following a halt in business activity.

Economic data on Wednesday showed U.S. retail sales plunged a record 8.7% in March, while manufacturing output dropped by the most in over 74 years, signaling worse numbers to come as the lockdowns continue. polled by Reuters expect weekly jobless claims likely topped 5 million last week, which would take total unemployment claims to an astounding 20 million in the past month. for economic data and the current earnings season are already extremely low (but) these figures could act as a reminder that the global economy is facing a deep recession and that recovery might take longer than initially expected," said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at AxiCorp.

"Despite the numerous economic stimulus packages and signs of stabilization from the Covid-19 crisis, it is still too early for investors to relax."

Analysts forecast earnings for S&P 500 companies slumped 12.8% in the first quarter, with U.S. economic growth expected to have contracted at its fastest pace since World War Two.

On Thursday, BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK ) BLK.N , the world's largest asset manager saw the capital it manages fall by almost $1 trillion in the quarter as investors pulled money out of its marquee funds. equipment maker Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT ) Inc ABT.N posted a 16% drop in quarterly profit and suspended its full-year forecast due to uncertainty caused by the virus outbreak. Stanley MS.N reported a 32% fall in quarterly profit as its advisory and wealth management businesses took a hit from the economic fallout of the pandemic. Its shares slipped 0.9%.

At 7:47 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 4 points, or 0.02%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 3.25 points, or 0.12% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 41.75 points, or 0.49%.

Chipmakers Qualcomm Inc QCOM.O , Intel Corp INTC.O , Nvidia Corp NVDA.O and Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD.O were up between 1.2% and 1.6% after the world's largest contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) 2330.TW reported a near doubling in first-quarter net profit.

Netflix Inc NFLX.O rose 1.9% after multiple brokerages hiked their price targets on the stock expecting higher subscriber growth during the lockdown.

However, United Airlines Holdings Inc UAL.O slipped 2.7% as the carrier said it cut its flight schedule by 90% for May and warned travel demand, now "essentially at zero shows no sign of improving in the near term", making job cuts likely.

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