U.S. Stock Futures Give Back Ground After Spike In Jobless Claims

After pointing to a sharply higher open for the markets earlier this morning, stock futures have given back ground following the release of a Labor Department report showing another spike in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 28th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims skyrocketed to 6.648 million, an increase of 3.341 million from the previous week’s revised level of 3.307 million.

With another record-breaking increase, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims reached the highest level in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.

The report said the less volatile four-week moving average also surged up to 2,612,000, an increase of 1,607,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,004,250.

The continued jump in jobless claims has led to renewed concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, overshadowing a surge in oil prices.

Oil prices have moved sharply higher after President Donald Trump expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia and Russia would resolve their price war within a “few days.”

Trump also indicated he has invited oil executives to the White House to discuss ways to help the industry, saying, “We don’t want to lose our great oil companies.”

In less closely watched economic news, the Commerce Department released a report showing the U.S. trade deficit narrowed significantly in the month of February.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $39.9 billion in February from a revised $45.5 billion in January.

Economists had expected the deficit to narrow to $40.0 billion from the $45.3 billion originally reported for the previous month.

The narrower deficit came as the value of imports plunged by 2.5 percent to $247.5 billion, while the value of exports fell by 0.4 percent to $207.5 billion.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is due to release its report on new orders for manufactured goods in the month of February. Factory orders are expected to inch up by 0.2 percent.

Stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the pullback seen in the previous session. With the drop on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 saw further downside after turning in their worst first quarter performances ever.

The major averages climbed off their worst levels going into the close but still posted steep losses. The Dow plummeted 973.65 points or 4.4 percent to 20,943.51, the Nasdaq tumbled 339.52 points or 4.4 percent to 7,360.58 and the S&P 500 plunged 114.06 points or 4.4 percent to 2,470.50.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.7 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index has fallen by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.4 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are spiking $1.96 to $22.27 a barrel after slipping $0.17 to $20.31 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after falling $5.20 to $1,591.40 ounce in the previous session, gold futures are soaring $31.70 to $1,623.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 107.13 yen compared to the 107.17 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0903 compared to yesterday’s $1.0964.

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