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Stocks - U.S. Futures Point to Lower Open; Dow Set to Drop 150 Points

By Noreen Burke

Investing.com - U.S. stocks were on track for a lower open on Thursday, weighed down by simmering U.S.-China tensions and ongoing concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), S&P 500 futures traded 18.25 points, or 0.6%, lower, and Nasdaq futures were down 42 points or 0.45%. The Dow futures contract was down 150 points, or 0.6%. 

The declines came after the three main indices posted their fourth gain in five sessions on Wednesday on the back of hopes for a faster economic rebound.

Market sentiment was dented after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his criticism of Beijing’s handling of the pandemic, accusing them of spreading “pain and carnage” throughout the world.

Trump also appeared to single out Chinese President Xi Jinping personally, tweeting that “it all comes from the top” – adding to concerns over the future of the trade deal agreed last year between the world’s two largest economies.

Investors were looking ahead to weekly U.S. jobless claims figures, at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT), with economists looking for a dip from last week, but a slight one as companies are still forced to shed jobs.

Claims for first-time unemployment benefits are expected to come in at 2.4 million, still high but well off the record 6.8 million seen at the end of March.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting late Wednesday showed the central bank pledged to act as appropriate to support the economy until it is on track to recovery, a sentiment echoed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell in recent days.

In commodities markets, oil prices rose to the highest levels in two-and-a half months boosted by data from the Energy Information Administration showing that U.S. crude inventories fell by a larger-than-forecast 5 million barrels last week.

At 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 2% higher at $36.48 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract was also up 2% to $36.50.

Elsewhere, gold futures were down 0.9% to $1,736.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0984, little changed for the day.

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