U.S. Stocks May Extend See-Saw Performance With Early Advance

After ending the previous session sharply lower, stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by 0.5 percent.

Early strength on Wall Street would extend the see-saw performance shown by the markets over the past few sessions.

The volatility seen in recent sessions comes as traders express some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recovery rally seen last week.

The major averages climbed well off their recent lows last week but have had some trouble sustaining the rebound amid continued concerns about the Russia-Ukraine war, inflation and interest rates.

Traders are likely to keep an eye on any developments out of Europe, where President Joe Biden is meeting with U.S. allies to discuss additional sanctions on Russia.

With Europe depending heavily on Russian gas for heating and power generation, the European Union is split on whether to sanction Russia’s energy sector.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in over 50 years in the week ended March 19th.

The report showed initial jobless claims slid to 187,000, a decrease of 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 212,000 from the 214,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 182,000 in September 1969.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods tumbled by much more than expected in the month of February amid a sharp pullback in orders for transportation equipment.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders slumped by 2.2 percent in February after jumping by 1.6 percent in January. Economists had expected durable goods orders to dip by 0.5 percent.

Excluding the steep drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders fell by 0.6 percent in February after climbing by 0.8 percent in January. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected ex-transportation orders to rise by 0.6 percent.

Following the strong upward move seen in Tuesday’s session, stocks showed a significant move back to the downside during trading on Wednesday. With the pullback on the day, the major averages gave back ground after ending Tuesday’s trading at their best closing levels in over a month.

The major averages ended the session at their worst levels of the day. The Dow plunged 448.96 points or 1.3 percent to 34,358.50, the Nasdaq tumbled 186.21 points or 1.3 percent to 13,922.60 and the S&P 500 slumped 55.37 points or 1.2 percent to 4,456.24.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are little changed on the day. While the German DAX Index has dipped by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both roughly flat.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are edging down $0.19 to $114.74 a barrel after spiking $5.66 to $114.93 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after climbing $15.80 to $1,937.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are rising $10.60 to $1,947.90 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 121.67 yen versus the 121.15 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0975 compared to yesterday’s $1.1004.

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