May 7, 2020

Stock futures steady as Wall Street awaits jobless claims figures

A woman walks by the Wall Street subway station sign on March 23, 2020 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes slipped in the overnight session Wednesday evening, suggesting Wall Street may be set for modest declines on Thursday after the government’s next jobless claims report.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 58 points, implying an opening loss of about 95 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were also slightly lower.

The overnight moves followed a drop in the Dow and S&P 500 during normal trading hours on Wednesday.

Dow industrials lost 218.45 points (0.9%) to close at 23,664.64 as UnitedHealth and Travelers Companies each shaved off north of 20 points. The S&P 500 dipped 0.7% on Wednesday as a 3.5% decline in utilities stocks and a 2.6% retreat in energy offset gains in information technology and discretionary stocks.

The Nasdaq Composite, the only major index to post a gain on Wednesday, rose 0.5% thanks to gains in lockdown plays Netflix (up 2.2%) and Amazon (up 1.4%).

U.S. traders will on Thursday digest the Labor Department’s latest report on jobless claims. Another 3.05 million workers are expected to have filed for benefits during the week ended May 2, which would bring the total number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits over the last six weeks to about 33 million.

The Labor Department’s prior jobless claims reports have shown that the number of Americans who have filed for unemployment insurance benefits amid government-imposed business closures has reached historic benchmarks. Claims numbers since March now exceed the 22.442 million positions added to the American economy since November 2009, when the U.S. economy began to add jobs back to the economy after the Great Recession.

Investors are also bracing for the Labor Department’s key jobs report on Friday, when economists expect to see the U.S. unemployment rate to have rocketed to 16% in April from 4.4% in March. Dow Jones economists expect nonfarm payrolls to have declined by about 21 million last month.

In corporate news, Peloton reported revenues surged 66% during its fiscal third quarter as more Americans bought fitness equipment for at-home use during the coronavirus pandemic. Critically, Peloton said it is seeing demand from new customers who’ve been inspired to buy one of its bikes amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

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