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Stock-market futures wobble as Cisco weighs on techs; Walmart rises on results

Barbara Kollmeyer

Children’s Place, Williams Co. also active

Getty ImagesWalmart rolled out results ahead of the openDMAMBMCMDMEMGPREVIEWZBZBRZDZDRZFZGZQZRZSZTZU

Wall Street was poised to struggle Thursday, with the going looking tough for techs as Cisco Systems Inc. fell in premarket after disappointing results and Nasdaq-100 futures pointed to a lower open.

Walmart Inc. was up after its own results and deal news lifted shares of Williams Companies.

A smattering of economic reports are on tap, while investors will be keeping an eye on 10-year bond yields, which remained elevated Thursday.

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What are markets doing?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YMM18.CBT) slipped 20 points to 24,718, while S&P 500 futures (ESM18.CME) fell 4.65 points, or 0.2%, to 2,718.50. Nasdaq-100 futures (NQM18.CME) dropped 25.50 points, or 0.4%, to 6,911.75.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 62.52 points, or 0.3%, to 24,768.93. The S&P 500 index (^GSPC) gained 11.01 points, or 0.4%, to 2,722.46, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) advanced 46.67 points, or 0.6%, to 7,398.30.

Standing out Thursday, the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 index (^RUT) hit an all-time high of 1,620.64. The index also closed at a record, ending at 1,616.37, a gain of 16.03 points, or 1%.

What’s driving the market?

Investor mettle may be tested as bond yields continued to climb Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note (XTUP:TMUBMUSD10Y=X) was steady near a 7-year high at 3.1%. A move above 3% has been cited as a psychologically significant level that could make equities appear less attractive.

A second round of U.S.-China trade talks was set to begin in Washington on Thursday, which comes amid a running standoff between the two countries over tariffs. President Donald Trump said last weekend, he would try to help telecom group ZTE from going under as it has been targeted by a U.S. ban, but then said in tweets on Wednesday that he wasn’t caving to any demand from China over that company.

Meanwhile, questions are lingering over another geopolitical front—North Korea—after Pyongyang signaled a day earlier that Kim Jong Un might pull out of next month’s summit with Trump if the U.S. insists on denuclearization for the isolated nation.

What are strategists saying?

“There have been several consistent themes running in 2018, each shifting in level of importance as events unfold. None of these possible game-changers has fulfilled its potential yet, but none has been resolved either, so investors continue to factor in risk around trade with China, nuclearization of North Korea, conflict in the Middle East, rising bond yields and monetary policy mistakes,” said Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, in a note to clients.

What data are in focus?

Updates for weekly jobless claims and the Philly Fed index for May are both due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by leading indicators for April at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will take part in a moderated discussion at 10:45 a.m. Eastern

What stocks are in focus?

(1786.HK)(1786.HK)Walmart Inc.(WMT) rose 1.1% in premarket after the retailing giant posted an earnings and sales beat.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) slumped nearly 9% in premarket after posting results, while Childrens Place Inc.(PLCE) fell 2% after earnings took a hit from unseasonably cold weather.

Applied Materials Inc.(AMAT) and Nordstrom Inc.(JWN) will report after the close.

Cisco Systems Inc.(CSCO) was down 4% in premarket after services revenue at the networking giant fell short of Wall Street expectations, in earnings late Wednesday.

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Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO) slipped 1.8% in premarket after the videogame publisher missed its revenue forecast and provided weaker-than-expected guidance.

Shares of Williams Companies(WMB) rose 2% after the natural gas infrastructure company said it would buy the outstanding common shares of Williams Partners LP (WPZ) in a deal valued at $10.5 billion. Williams Partners shares rose 5.5%.

What are other markets doing?

Asian markets finished mostly lower, while European stocks (^STOXX)(^STOXX)seesawed with Italian politics and earnings in focus.

Gold futures (GCM18.CMX) slipped 0.4%, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index (IFUS:DX-Y.NYB)inched up, while oil futures (CLM18.NYM)advanced 0.8% to $72.06 a barrel.



Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Follow her on Twitter @bkollmeyer.



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