After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 83 points.
Continued optimism about the economic outlook may lead an early rebound on Wall Street, although trading activity is likely to be somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.
Economists currently expect the report to show employment surged up by 870,000 jobs in July after jumping by 850,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent.
With the monthly jobs report looming, the Labor Department released a report this morning showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended July 31st.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 385,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 399,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 384,000 from the 400,000 originally reported for the previous week.
A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of June, reaching a new record high.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to $75.7 billion in June from a revised $71.0 billion in May.
Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $74.1 billion from the $71.2 billion originally reported for the previous month.
The wider than expected trade deficit came as the value of imports jumped by 2.1 percent to $283.4 billion, while the value of exports rose by 0.6 percent to $207.7 billion.
Stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq bucked the downtrend. The Dow slid firmly into negative territory, while the S&P 500 pulled back off Tuesday’s record closing high.
The Dow slumped 323.73 points or 0.9 percent to 34,792.67 and the S&P 500 fell 20.49 points or 0.5 percent to 4,402.66. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq spent most of the day lingering near the unchanged line before closing up 19.24 points or 0.1 percent at 14,780.53.
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 0.5 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.3 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.57 to $68.72 a barrel after plunging $2.41 to $68.15 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after inching up $0.40 to $1,814.50 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging down $0.40 to $1,814.10 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.59 yen versus the 109.48 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1835 compared to yesterday’s $1.1837.
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