U.S. Stocks May See Initial Weakness On Increase In Jobless Claims

Following the downturn seen over the course of the previous session, stocks may see some further 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 100 points.

Concerns about the economic recovery may continue to weigh on the markets after a report from the Labor Department showed an unexpected increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 15th.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 1.106 million, an increase of 135,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 971,000.

The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to drop to 925,000 from the 963,000 originally reported for the previous week.

However, the negative sentiment may be partly offset by news that China and the U.S. have agreed to hold new trade talks in the coming days.

A spokesman for the Chinese commerce ministry said the two sides will hold talks over the phone to review the progress of the “phase one” trade deal.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of July.

After seeing modest strength earlier in the session, stocks came under pressure in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The downturn by the major averages came after the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit record intraday highs.

The major averages climbed off their lows in the final minutes of trading but remained in negative territory. The Dow dipped 85.19 points or 0.3 percent to 27,692.88, the Nasdaq slid 64.38 points or 0.6 percent to 11,146.46 and the S&P 500 fell 14.93 points or 0.4 percent to 3,374.85.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved sharply lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.3 percent.

The major European markets have also shown notable moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has plunged by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 1.4 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 1.3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling $0.35 to $42.58 a barrel after inching up $0.04 to $42.93 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after plunging $42.80 to $1,970.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are tumbling $18.10 to $1,952.20 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 105.87 yen versus the 106.12 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1845 compared to yesterday’s $1.1838.

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