After ending the previous session mostly higher, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by just 11 points.
Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they digest the latest batch of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing an unexpected rebound in retail sales in the month of August.
The Commerce Department said retail sales climbed by 0.7 percent in August after plunging by a revised 1.8 percent in July.
The rebound surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to decrease by another 0.8 percent compared to the 1.1 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.
Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales surged up by 1.8 percent in August after tumbling by a revised 1.0 percent in July.
Economists had expected ex-auto sales to edge down by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.4 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, a separate report from the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rebounded by slightly more than expected in the week ended September 11th.
The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 332,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 312,000.
Economists had expected initial jobless claims to rise to 328,000 from the 310,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The modest increase came after initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since March of 2020 in the previous week.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve also released a report showing growth in Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity unexpectedly reaccelerated in the month of September.
Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is due to release its report on business inventories in the month of July. Economists expect business inventories to increase by 0.5 percent.
Stocks initially showed a lack of direction during trading on Wednesday but climbed firmly into positive territory as the day progressed. With the advance on the day, the major averages largely offset the downturn seen on Tuesday.
The major averages finished the session near their best levels of the day. The Dow climbed 236.82 points or 0.7 percent to 34,814.39, the Nasdaq advanced 123.77 points or 0.8 percent to 15,161.53 and the S&P 500 jumped 37.56 points or 0.9 percent to 4,480.70.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has jumped by 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.7 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.39 to $72.22 a barrel after spiking $2.15 to $72.61 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after falling $12.30 to $1,794.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are plunging $31 to $1,763.80 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.62 yen versus the 109.38 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1755 compared to yesterday’s $1.1817.
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