Thursday August 6th

6-08-2020

Stock futures erase losses, turn positive after much better-than-expected jobless claims data

U.S. stock index futures erased earlier losses on Thursday after the release of better-than-expected unemployment data. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 41 points, or 0.2%, after being down more than 100 points. S&P 500 futures posted a small gain and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.2%. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 1 totaled 1.186 million. That’s well below a Dow Jones estimate of 1.423 million and the lowest claims levels since the pandemic began. The data came a day before the government’s monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show jobs growth of 1.264 million for July. Thursday’s report also comes as lawmakers struggle to reach a deal on a new coronavirus relief package. To be sure, the White House appeared to yield slightly on its opposition to continued federal support for unemployment benefits. The Trump team offered to extend extra federal unemployment insurance into December at $400 per week, NBC News and Politico reported. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also offered to extend a moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing into December. Democrats, meanwhile, cut their request for U.S. Postal Service funding to $10 billion from $25 billion, according to the reports. Wall Street was coming off a solid session in which the Nasdaq Composite notched another record close and the S&P 500 ended within 2% of its Feb. 19 all-time high. Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Thursday as investors continued to monitor tensions between the U.S. and China. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.33% to close at 2,342.61 as shares of automaker Hyundai Motor soared 7.84%. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.26% to about 3,386.46 while the Shenzhen component slipped 0.7% to around 13,863.13. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 0.69% lower at 24,930.58. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.43% to close at 22,418.15 while the Topix index shed 0.31% to end the trading day at 1,549.88. Oil prices were unchanged on Thursday, struggling to hold onto five-month highs reached in the previous session, as fuel demand worries caused by a second wave of coronavirus infections outweighed declines in the U.S. dollar. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $42.15 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 16 cents to $45.33. Gold surged to a record high on Thursday as the COVID-19 pandemic clouded the economic outlook and bolstered bullion’s safe-haven allure, though analysts said the rapid pace of gains could prompt some correction. Spot gold hit an all-time high of $2059.09 per ounce and was up 0.9% at $2,057.00. U.S. gold futures rose 1% to $2,069.