US stocks will be in focus today, ahead of the three-day weekend.
Context: US stocks closed lower on Thursday, as investors monitored rising tensions between Beijing and Washington. Dismal economic reports, including weaker-than-expected initial jobless claims, also contributed to dampening investor sentiment on Wall Street.
Details: The Labor Department reported that 2.44 million people had filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending May 16. This brings the total number of claims to around 40 million during the coronavirus outbreak. Analysts were expecting jobless claims to total 2.4 million last week.
Adding to the woes came a legislation being passed by the US Senate, which will result in the barring of certain Chinese firms from the US stock exchanges.
In other economic news, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index came in worse than expected for May, and sales of earlier owned homes also plunged to a 10-year low. The IHS Markit PMIs for manufacturing and services rose slightly from last month’s reading, but continued to reflect a decline in new orders.
The Dow shed 101.78 points to close at 24,474.12 on Thursday. The S&P 500 index declined 0.8% to 2,948.51, while the Nasdaq 100 slid 1% to 9,284.88. Despite yesterday’s declines, all three major indices are on course to booking gains for the week. US markets will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
In corporate news, shares of L Brands jumped more than 18% even as the company reported a higher-than-expected quarterly loss for the first quarter. The company’s Bath & Body Works business recorded a strong rise in sales. Take-Two Interactive Software’s stock fell around 6% despite the videogame publisher surpassing consensus estimates for its fiscal fourth quarter.
What to watch: US stocks are expected to open on a lower note today, with the stock futures trading down in the European session. There are no major economic reports scheduled for release today, except the rig count report by Baker Hughes.
Investors will continue to assess the coronavirus figures, with the number of infections surging to 5,106,680 globally. The US has confirmed over 1,577,280 covid-19 cases with around 94,700 fatalities.
Other Markets: European indices were trading lower at 9am GMT, with the FTSE 100, German 30 and French 40 down by 1.7%, 1.4% and 1.3%, respectively.