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Choppy Trading Likely To Persist On Wall Street

iHub News
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May 09 2024 9:08AM

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open on Thursday, with stocks likely to extend the lackluster performance seen over the two previous sessions.

The futures had been pointing to a modestly lower open but regained ground following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing a much bigger than expected increase by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended May 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 231,000, an increase of 22,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 209,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 210,000 from the 208,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the much bigger than expected increase, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 234,000 in week ended August 26th.

The data may add to recently renewed optimism that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates in the coming months.

Trading activity may remain somewhat subdued, however, as traders express some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.

Stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen during Tuesday’s session. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow closed higher for the sixth straight day, reaching its best closing level in over a month.

The major averages eventually finished the day mixed. While the Dow climbed 172.13 points or 0.4 percent to 39,056.39, the S&P 500 edged down 0.03 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 5,187.67 and the Nasdaq dipped 29.80 points or 0.2 percent to 16,302.76.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came amid lingering uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates following Tuesday’s remarks by Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari.

Kashkari suggested interest rates may need to remain at current levels for an “extended period” and said he couldn’t rule out another rate increase.

The Federal Reserve is still widely expected to lower rates sometime in the third quarter, however, with CME Group’s FedWatch Tool currently indicating an 83.5 percent chance rates will be lower by September.

Traders may also have been reluctant to make more significant moves amid another relatively quiet day on the U.S. economic front.

A report on weekly jobless claims may attract attention on Thursday, while the University of Michigan is due to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in May on Friday.

Among individual stocks, shares of Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) moved sharply lower after the ride-hailing giant reported an unexpected first quarter loss on weaker than expected booking revenue.

Cloud communications company Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) also came under pressure after reporting first quarter results that exceeded estimates but providing disappointing second quarter revenue guidance.

Meanwhile, ride-hailing company Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) showed a strong move the upside after reporting first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Reflecting the lackluster performance by the broader markets, most of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day.

Networking stocks showed a strong move to the upside, however, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index climbing by 1.1 percent.

Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET) helped lead the sector higher, surging by 6.5 percent after reporting better than expected first quarter results.

Tobacco and telecom stocks also saw notable strength on the day, while biotechnology and commercial real estate stocks moved to the downside.