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Futures Pointing To Initial Strength On Wall Street

iHub News
Latest News
March 14 2024 9:21AM

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open on Thursday, with stocks likely to see initial strength as traders digest a slew of key U.S. economic data.

The futures remained positive even after the Labor Department released a report showing producer prices increased by much more than expected in the month of February.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.6 percent in February after rising by 0.3 percent in January. Economists had expected producer prices to rise by another 0.3 percent.

The report also said the annual rate of producer price growth accelerated to 1.6 percent in February from a revised 1.0 percent in January.

Economists had expected the year-over-year price growth to rise to 1.1 percent from the 0.9 percent originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department released a report showing retail sales rebounded in the month of February, although the increase fell short of economist estimates.

The Commerce Department said retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in February after slumping by a revised 1.1 percent in January.

Economists had expected retail sales to increase by 0.8 percent compared to the 0.8 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in February after falling by 0.8 percent in January. Ex-auto sales were expected to rise by 0.5 percent.

The Labor Department also released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly lower in the week ended February 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 209,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 210,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 218,000 from the 217,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Following the significant rebound seen during Tuesday’s session, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Wednesday. The major averages spent most of the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line before closing mixed.

While the Dow inched up 37.83 points or 0.1 percent to 39,043.32, closing higher for the third consecutive session, the S&P 500 dipped 9.96 points or 0.2 percent to 5,165.31 and the Nasdaq slid 87.87 points or 0.5 percent to 16,177.77.

The pullback by the Nasdaq partly reflected weakness in the tech sector, with AI darling Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) slumping by 1.1 percent.

Overall trading activity remained somewhat subdued, however, as a lack of major U.S. economic kept some traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of several key reports.

On Friday, trading may be impacted by reaction to reports on import and export prices, industrial production and consumer sentiment.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary report on consumer sentiment in March may be in focus, as it includes reading on inflation expectations.

Most of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Energy stocks saw considerable strength, however, with a sharp increase by the price of crude oil contributing to the strength in the sector.

With crude for April delivery spiking $2.16 to $79.72 a barrel, the NYSE Arca Oil Index surged by 2.3 percent and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index shot up by 1.9 percent.

An increase by the price of gold also contributed to considerable strength among gold stocks, as reflected by the 2.2 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

On the other hand, semiconductor stocks showed a significant move to the downside, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 2.5 percent.