U.S. Stocks May Open Lower Amid Lingering Coronavirus Fears

Following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session, stocks may move to the downside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 203 points.

Lingering concerns about a second wave of coronavirus infections may weigh on the markets amid the rising number of cases in Beijing as well as several U.S. states.

Beijing has reportedly closed schools and canceled flights to contain the latest coronavirus outbreak, which has purportedly led to more than 100 new confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University found ten U.S. states are seeing their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per day since the pandemic started.

CNN said the states seeing record-high averages are Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas.

The rising number of new cases in Oklahoma has not dissuaded President Donald Trump from plans to hold a massive indoor rally in Tulsa on Saturday.

Negative sentiment may also be generated in reaction to a report from the Labor Department showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by much less than expected in the week ended June 13th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped to 1.508 million, a decrease of 58,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level of 1.566 million.

Economists had expected jobless claims to tumble to 1.300 million from the 1.542 million originally reported for the previous week.

On the other hand, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve released a separate report showing an unexpected expansion in regional manufacturing activity in the month of June.

The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity soared to a positive 27.5 in June from a negative 43.1 in May, with a positive reading indicating an expansion in regional manufacturing activity.

Economists had expected the index to show a much more modest increase to a negative 23.0, which would have still indicated a contraction.

Shortly after the start of trading, The Conference Board is due to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of May. The leading economic index is expected to climb by 1.7 percent in May after tumbling by 4.4 percent in April.

After moving significantly higher over the course of the three previous sessions, stocks turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Wednesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing mixed.

Snapping three-day winning streaks, the Dow slid 170.37 points or 0.7 percent to 26,119.61 and the S&P 500 fell 11.25 points or 0.4 percent to 3,113.49, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 14.66 points or 0.2 percent to 9,910.53.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has slumped by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are inching up $0.15 to $38.11 a barrel after falling $0.42 to $37.96 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after edged down $0.90 to $1,735.60 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $6.20 to $1,729.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.84 yen versus the 107.01 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1228 compared to yesterday’s $1.1244.

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