After closing mixed for four consecutive sessions, 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 S&P 500 futures unchanged.
Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they digest separate reports from the Labor Department on weekly jobless claims and producer price inflation.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims edged down to 375,000 in the week ended August 7th, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 387,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 375,000 from the 385,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. producer prices increased more than expected in the month of July.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand surged up by 1.0 percent in July, matching the jump seen in the previous month. Economists had expected producer prices to climb by 0.6 percent.
With the bigger than expected monthly increase, the annual rate of growth in producer prices accelerated to 7.8 percent in July from 7.3 percent in June.
The year-over-year spike in producer prices reflected the largest advance since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010.
Excluding prices for food, energy and trade services, core producer prices advanced by 0.9 percent in July after rising by 0.5 percent in June. Core prices were expected to show another 0.5 percent increase.
The annual rate of growth in core prices accelerated to 6.1 percent in July from 5.5 percent in June, showing the biggest increase since 12-month data were first calculated in August 2014.
The major U.S. stock indexes once again moved in opposite directions during trading on Wednesday, closing mixed for the fourth consecutive session. While the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs, the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished the day modestly lower.
The Dow climbed 220.30 points or 0.6 percent to 35,484.97 and the S&P 500 rose 10.95 points or 0.3 percent to 4,447.70. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq rebounded from its worst levels of the day but still closed down 22.95 points or 0.2 percent at 14,765.14.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and China’s Shanghai Composite Index both edged down by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.4 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling $0.36 to $68.89 a barrel after jumping $0.96 to $69.25 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after surging $21.60 to $1,753.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slipping $4.30 to $1,748.70 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.49 yen versus the 110.43 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1733 compared to yesterday’s $1.1739.
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