Published July 31, 2014
U.S. stock futures fell sharply on Thursday as investors appeared to grow nervous about interest-rate hikes following strong economic data, while surging bond yields also took a toll on appetite for equities.
Investors will get financial updates from oil major Exxon Mobil and weekly labor-market data ahead of the widely anticipated July jobs report.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU4) were off their lows, but still held a deficit of 84 points, or 0.5%, to 16,736. Futures for the S&P 500 index (SPU4) lost 11 points, or 0.6%, to 1,953, and those for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDU4) gave up 25 points, or 0.6%, to 3,944.
"The markets seem to be digesting a lot of the data from [Wednesday] along with the Fed statement. Even though there is a good chance we'll see a revision to what was a surprisingly good Q2 GDP number, this does raise the specter of monetary tightening in less than a year," said Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG, in emailed comments.
U.S. gross domestic product, released Wednesday, expanded by a stronger-than-expected 4%.Stocks had a choppy session Wednesday, but managed slight gains after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen appeared to soothe fears that the central bank might start raising interest rates sooner than anticipated.
U.S. Treasury prices sank in the wake of the growth data, and equities are feeling the pinch from the bond selloff that's left the yield on the 2-year note (2_YEAR) at its highest level since May 2011, said Kelly. Prices and yields move inversely.
Concerns about the health of Europe's banking sector may drag on Wall Street, as shares of Banco Espírito Santo SA in Lisbon sank as much as 50%. The shares had been suspended after the Portuguese lender reported a record second-quarter loss. The loss came as the bank's troubled parent company, Espirito Santo International, found ways to use the bank to raise funds that are largely unrecoverable.
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Labor Department releases its weekly jobless claims report, with the number of Americans who filed new applications for unemployment benefits last week expected to rise to about 308,000 by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. Due the same time, the Labor Department's employment cost index, which measures how much companies pay in wages and benefits, is projected to climb a modest 0.5% in the second quarter.
Even with the expected rise in jobless claims, the labor market is still strengthening, as the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs a month for five consecutive months. On Friday, the July nonfarm-payrolls report is projected to show a gain of 230,000 jobs.
A reading on July business conditions in the Chicago area is due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, and economists are looking for the Chicago PMI to rise to 63.5, from 62.6 in June.
On the corporate front, Time Warner Cable Inc.'s (TWC) second-quarter results surpassed Wall Street's estimates.
Exxon Mobil (XOM) is expected to report adjusted second-quarter earnings of $1.86 a share.
Pharmaceutical distributor McKesson's (MCK) earnings are projected to come in at $2.33 a share.
After the bell, Tesla Motors (TSLA) will release quarterly results.
U.S.-listed shares of Nokia Oyj (NOK) may be active after Nokia Networks agreed to buy a part of Panasonic's wireless networks business for an undisclosed amount.
In the commodities market, crude-oil futures (CLU4) fell below $100 a barrel on bearish U.S. inventory data, while gold futures (GCQ4) edged higher.
European stocks fell, and Asian equities closed mixed, with Japan's Nikkei Average ending down by 0.2%.