U.S. Stocks May Open Roughly Flat Following Slew Of Economic Data

Following the volatility seen in the previous session, stocks may continue to experience choppy trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures down by just 0.1 percent.

Traders may initially remain reluctant to make significant moves as they digest a substantial batch of U.S. economic data.

The slew of data included a report from the Commerce Department showing an unexpected increase in retail sales in the month of August, although the sales growth followed a revised decrease in July.

The report showed retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in August following a revised 0.4 percent decrease in July. Economists had expected retail sales to come in unchanged, matching the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a rebound in auto sales, retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in August following a revised unchanged reading in July.

Ex-auto sales were expected to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report released by the Labor Department unexpectedly showed another modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 10th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 213,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 218,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 226,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected dip, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 202,000 in the week ended May 28, 2022.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a report showing a continued decrease in U.S. import prices in August, while may help offset recent inflation concerns.

The Labor Department said import prices slid by 1.0 percent in August after tumbling by a revised 1.5 percent in July.

Economists had expected import prices to decrease by 1.2 percent compared to the 1.4 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

The report also showed export prices dove by 1.6 percent in August after plummeting by a revised 3.7 percent in July.

Export prices were expected to decline by 1.1 percent compared to the 3.3 percent plunge originally reported for the previous month.

Just before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on industrial production in the month of August. Industrial production is expected to inch up by 0.2 percent in August after climbing by 0.6 percent in July.

The Commerce Department is due to release its report on business inventories in the month of July shortly after the open. Business inventories are expected to increase by 0.8 percent in July after jumping by 1.4 percent in June.

Following the substantial pullback seen on Tuesday, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages spent the day swinging back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages moved to the upside going into the close, managing to end the day in positive territory. While the Nasdaq climbed 86.10 points or 0.7 percent to 11,719.68, the S&P 500 rose 13.32 points or 0.3 percent to 3,946.01 and the Dow inched up 30.12 points or 0.1 percent to 31,135.09.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1.2 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.6 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $1.64 to $86.84 a barrel after jumping $1.17 to $88.48 a barrel a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after falling $8.30 to $1,709.10 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $15.80 to $1,693.30 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 143.25 yen versus the 142.90 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0010 compared to yesterday’s $0.9981.

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