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Stocks - US Futures Slip Ahead of Jobless Claims Data

By Peter Nurse - U.S. stocks are set to edge lower Thursday, with investors happy to bank some of the recent gains ahead of key unemployment data that could illustrate the depth of the economic slowdown.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), futures for the S&P 500 traded 10 points, or 0.4%, lower, futures for the Nasdaq down 21 points, or 0.3%. The Dow futures contract fell 10 points, or 0.1%. 

These cash indices are at one month highs, with the Dow and theS&P 500 now in bull territories, over 25% higher than the March 23 lows.

U.S. weekly jobless claims have become the go-to economic indicator to capture the latest impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and this week’s report is due at 8:30 AM ET.

Economists expect that claims eased off only a little from the previous week's record 6.65 million to 5.25 million, while continuing claims are seen coming in at a staggering 8 million. This eclipses the 6 million odd seen in 2009 during the financial crisis.

Investors will also be able to hear from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at 10:00 AM ET (14:00 GMT) as he takes part in a webinar on the state of the economy, taking questions from the audience and viewers via e-mail and Twitter.

At the same time the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters including Russia will hold an emergency meeting to discuss cutting output to stabilize world markets. A reduction of approaching 10 million barrels a day is expected as pressure mounts to bring supply back into line with collapsing demand.

On Friday, oil ministers from G-20 countries will discuss whether to make their own contributions.

At 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 6.8% higher at $26.82 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 4.2% to $34.23, having earlier touched a one-month high.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has climbed over 432,000, with the national death toll surpassing 14,000. At least 1,939 people died of the virus Wednesday, marking the deadliest day in the U.S. since the crisis started.

In corporate news, Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) will be in focus, with its shares jumping over 6% in after hours trading, after it announced that its new video streaming service has reached more than 50 million subscribers since its launch five months ago. That’s almost double the number when it last detailed these figures in February.

On the flip side, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) could struggle Thursday after announcing that fiscal second-quarter earnings will be chopped roughly in half from a year ago due to the spread of the coronavirus through China and the U.S. Starbucks shares dropped 2.2% in after hours trading.

Additionally, gold futures rose 1.3% to $1,705.95/oz, while EUR/USD traded at $1.0859, up 0.1%.

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