Stock futures opened little changed after a whipsaw session on Thursday, as investors continued to weigh new economic data and earnings results against hopes of a speedy economic reopening.
By the end of the regular session earlier in the day, stocks ended sharply higher. The three major indices shook off previous declines after the Labor Department’s latest report on initial unemployment claims showed a greater than expected 2.981 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. This brought the total number of new claims filed since the week ended March 20 to nearly 36.5 million.
A steady drumbeat of grisly economic data – along with weak corporate earnings results for the last reported quarter – compelled a number of analysts to strike a more cautious tone on the stock market. The S&P 500 has risen more than 25% from its March 23 low in spite of this historically weak data, with investors betting on more stimulus from fiscal and monetary policymakers to blunt the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Investors have largely piled into software shares viewed as more insulated from the impacts of the virus, with the Information Tech sector the only S&P 500 sector positive for the year to date through Thursday’s close.
Noah Hamman, CEO of AdvisorShares, told Yahoo Finance Thursday that the market may be headed for a correction, and will be “lower for longer” as market participants await clarity to see that some of the biggest downside risks – namely, a second wave of coronavirus infections or escalating U.S.-China tensions – have dissipated.
The surging new jobless claims data in particular “pour[ed] cold water on the V-shaped recovery talk,” when it comes to thinking about the shape of the eventual rebound, Chris Rupkey, managing director for MUFG Union Bank, said in a note.
“Economic growth might get a boost from pent-up demand, but the labor markets have dug themselves a deeper hole that will be harder to climb back out of,” he added. “Corporate profits will be a no-show as well as an unprecedented number of business models have been thrown under the bus and will make it harder for many formerly successful businesses to reactivate themselves.”
Meanwhile, states across the nation and some countries around the world have begun, or have discussed, a phased reopening of businesses as case growth slows for the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance to inform states how to reopen public spaces including bars, restaurants and offices.
The New York Stock Exchange, is set to reopen its trading floor May 26, after being forced to close in mid-March as the pandemic spread.
6:00 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures open little changed
Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:00 p.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): down 3.25 points, or 0.11%, to 2,843.75
Dow futures (YM=F): down 24 points, or 0.1%, to 23,510.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 1.25 points, or 0.01%, to 9,080.75
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