MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stock Futures Pare Slight Gains After ECB's Policy Update

By Mark DeCambre and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Comey hearing, U.K. election and ECB meeting are all on deck Thursday

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Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open Thursday after the European Central Bank kept its monetary policy unchanged but appeared to crack the door to adopting a more hawkish posture in the future.

The central-bank decision, which will be followed by a news conference featuring ECB President Mario Draghi at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, is among a slate of important events that could be influential to global markets.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 7 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21,170, while those for the S&P 500 index added 1.85 points, or 0.1%, to 2,433.50. Nasdaq-100 index futures gained 11.25 points, or 0.2%, to 5,891.

The three main U.S. equity indexes were slightly higher before the ECB announcement.

The ECB, as expected, left interest rates unchanged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ecb-leaves-policy-unchanged-drops-reference-to-lower-rates-2017-06-08) Thursday but said it continued to expect interest rates "to remain at present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon" of its asset-buying program, which is set to run at least through December. In previous statements, the ECB had said it expected rates "to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time." That alteration is seen as given the central bank scope to nudge rates higher in the future.

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The ECB's refinancing rate remains 0%, while the rate paid on deposits left overnight at the central bank was held at minus 0.4%.

Investors also were focused on the U.K. general election, and testimony from former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey's on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Comey is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

Read:What to watch when James Comey testifies to the Senate on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-watch-when-james-comey-testifies-to-the-senate-on-thursday-2017-06-05)

Comey's prepared remarks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/full-text-of-comeys-prepared-senate-testimony-2017-06-07) to the Senate Intelligence Committee, released on Wednesday, helped stocks recover from losses late in the session. The Dow average and the S&P 500 each ended up 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed 0.4% higher.

See:Comey's juicy Trump account leaves some big questions unanswered (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/comeys-juicy-trump-account-leaves-some-big-questions-unanswered-2017-06-07)

"Although Comey's testimony has attracted most of the media headlines, we didn't see any significant disclosures from the prepared remarks released yesterday," said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed.

"While we cannot assume anything, a base case scenario would not be a big surprise to arise from Comey's testimony before Congress. I think that the ECB meeting and the U.K. election are the risk events that will produce the big moves today," he added in a note.

Read:Why the ECB can take only 'baby steps' toward ending ultraloose monetary policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/draghis-ecb-may-take-baby-steps-toward-ending-ultraloose-monetary-policy-2017-06-06)

In the U.K., voters headed to the polls in an election that turned out to be much more uncertain than anyone had predicted. Opinion polls are still giving Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party the lead, but the big question is whether the party will increase its majority in parliament. Polling stations close at 10 p.m. London time (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-is-the-uk-election-and-when-do-we-know-who-won-2017-06-01), or 5 p.m. Eastern, and the first exit polls will be released immediately after.

Read:U.K. election--these are the stocks and sectors to watch once the result is in (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-for-a-shake-up-among-uk-stocks-after-thursdays-election-2017-06-06)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-for-a-shake-up-among-uk-stocks-after-thursdays-election-2017-06-06) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-for-a-shake-up-among-uk-stocks-after-thursdays-election-2017-06-06)Also read:U.K. election: The worst, best and most likely scenarios for stocks world-wide (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-election-the-nightmare-best-case-and-most-likely-scenarios-for-stocks-worldwide-2017-06-01)

The pound traded at a two-week high as voting got under way, buying $1.2943, compared with $1.2960 late Wednesday in New York.

Economic news: A reading on weekly jobless claims is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, followed by a quarterly survey of services at 10 a.m. Eastern.

See:

Stock movers: Shares of Yahoo! Inc.(YHOO) climbed 8% in premarket trade. The move came after news late Wednesday that up to 1,000 layoffs are expected at the combined Yahoo and AOL companies set to be bought by Verizon Communications Inc.(VZ).

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) gained 1.4% ahead of the bell. The rise builds on recent days' sharp rally (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amds-stock-extends-surge-fueled-by-tremendous-graphics-cards-demand-2017-06-07) following upbeat comments from Apple Inc. (AAPL) and brokers regarding the chip maker.

Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.(BABA) jumped 12% before the open after the Chinese e-commerce giant said revenues are expected to grow between 45% and 49% in 2018.

Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-sit-back-wait-for-global-news-to-pass-2017-06-07), although Japan's Nikkei 225 index bucked the positive trend. The losses in Tokyo came after the yen jumped on reports the Bank of Japan is running simulations of exits from quantitative easing.

European stocks were little changed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-search-for-firm-footing-with-ecb-uk-election-on-deck-2017-06-08) ahead of the ECB meeting and the U.K. election result.

Oil prices declined 0.3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/crude-futures-attempt-to-rebound-from-biggest-drop-in-a-month-2017-06-08), after posting the biggest drop since March in Wednesday's session. That slump followed a report of an unexpected climb in U.S. stockpiles.

Gold fell 0.4%, while the dollar was up 0.2% against other major currencies.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 08, 2017 08:12 ET (12:12 GMT)