Technology stocks may help lead an early move to the upside on Wall Street on Thursday following upbeat earnings news. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Nasdaq futures jumping by 161.25 points.
Early buying interest is likely to be generated in reaction to upbeat earnings news from big-name companies like Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB).
Shares of Apple are moving notably higher in pre-market trading after the tech giant reported fiscal second quarter earnings that far exceeded analyst estimates and increased its stock buyback and dividend.
Social media giant Facebook is also seeing significant pre-market strength after reporting much better than expected first quarter earnings.
Big-name companies like Comcast (CMCSA), Caterpillar (CAT) and McDonald’s (MCD) may also move to the upside after reporting strong quarterly results.
Most major companies have reported better than expected results this earnings season, but the markets have not seen much buying interest in response due to concerns about valuations and whether the results are strong enough to support even further upside.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to a new pandemic-era low in the week ended April 24th.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 553,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 566,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 549,000 from the 547,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Jobless claims fell for the third straight week, once again sliding to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.
Meanwhile, preliminary data released by the Commerce Department showed an acceleration in the pace of U.S. economic growth in the first three months of 2021.
The report said real gross domestic product surged up by 6.4 percent in the first quarter after jumping by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Economists had expected GDP to increase by 6.5 percent.
Shortly after the start of trading, the National Association of Realtors is scheduled to release its report on pending home sales in the month of March. Pending home sales are expected to jump by 5.0 percent in March after plunging by 10.6 percent in February.
A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.
Extending the lackluster performance seen during trading on Tuesday, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages once again spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
The major averages eventually ended the day modestly lower. The Dow slid 164.55 points or 0.5 percent to 33,820.38, the Nasdaq dipped 39.19 points or 0.3 percent to 14,051.03 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.54 points or 0.1 percent to 4,183.18 after reaching a record intraday high.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, with the Japanese markets closed for a holiday. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index are both up by 0.4 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are jumping $1.33 to $65.19 a barrel after climbing $0.92 to $63.86 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after falling $4.90 to $1,773.90 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are rising $5.60 to $1,779.50 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.92 yen versus the 108.60 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2127 compared to yesterday’s $1.2126.
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