Futures Pointing To Initial Strength On Wall Street

After ending the previous session narrowly mixed, stocks may move to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Nasdaq futures showing a notable advance.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is likely to benefit from a surge by shares of Nvidia (NVDA), as the chipmaker is soaring by 11.4 percent in pre-market trading.

The spike by Nvidia comes after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter results and provided upbeat revenue guidance for the current quarter.

The semiconductor sector may also benefit from an advance by shares of Intel (INTC), with the industry giant climbing by 1.4 percent in pre-market trading after Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating on the company’s stock.

Concerns about the outlook for interest rates may continue to hang over the markets, however, as traders digest the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

The Fed minutes offered few surprised but reiterated that the central bank will continue to raise interest rates in its battle against inflation.

With the Fed warning about the impact of labor market tightness, some negative sentiment may be generated in reaction to a Labor Department report showing an unexpected dip in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended February 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 192,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 195,000.

The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 200,000 from the 194,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, revised data released by the Commerce Department showed the U.S. economy grew by slightly less than previously estimated in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The report said real gross domestic product jumped by 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previously reported 2.9 percent surge. Economists had expected GDP growth to be unrevised.

The Commerce Department said the slower than previously estimated growth primarily reflected a downward revision to consumer spending.

After ending the previous session sharply lower, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before eventually closing mixed.

While the Nasdaq crept up 14.77 points or 0.1 percent to 11,507.07, the S&P 500 edged down 6.29 points or 0.2 percent to 3,991.05 and the Dow dipped 84.50 points or 0.3 percent to 33,045.09.

With the modest decreases on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 once again fell to their lowest closing levels in a month.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, with the Japanese markets closed for a holiday. China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, European stocks have moved mostly higher on the day. The German DAX Index is up by 0.6 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent, although the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.89 to $74.84 a barrel after plunging $2.41 to $73.95 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after edging down $1 to $1,841.50 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $11.20 to $1,830.30 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 135.26 yen versus the 134.84 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0603 compared to yesterday’s $1.0605.

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