Stock futures pause ahead of jobless report

The S&P 500 has jumped nearly 23% in the last two and a half weeks

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U.S. equity futures are trading cautiously on Thursday ahead of what could be another record jobless claims report.

Futures are indicating a slightly lower open.

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One item of economic data that could dictate the trading direction would be the weekly jobless claim number being released Thursday morning.

5.25 million Americans are expected to have filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week according to economists surveyed by Refinitiv. That’s on top of the 9.955 million claims filed in the prior two-week period. And note the huge range for claims: 2.5 million to 9.295 million.

JOBLESS CLAIMS REPORT DURING CORONAVIRUS COULD HIT 7M OR HIGHER

Recent upward swings in markets have dwarfed declines amid signs that deaths and infections may be nearing a peak or plateau in some of the world’s hardest-hit areas.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, raised hopes when he said the White House is working on plans to eventually reopen the country. President Trump later said it “will be sooner rather than later.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27147.7-509.72-1.84%
SP500S&P 5003281.06-38.41-1.16%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX10778.79817-14.48-0.13%

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 climbed 3.4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 3.4 percent and the Nasdaq added 2.6 percent.

In Asia on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.1 percent after the central bank governor said the economy faces “extremely high” uncertainty over the likely impact of the pandemic.

But elsewhere in Asia, markets were mostly higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.4 percent and China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.4 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE added 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent and France's CAC fell 0.4 percent.

And a meeting of oil producers planned for Thursday has raised hopes energy companies might get some relief in the form of production cuts to help support crude prices amid collapsing demand.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.58 to $26.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange early Thursday. It gained $1.46, or 6.2 percent, to settle at $25.09 a barrel on Wednesday, recovering some of its 9.4 percent slide from the day before.

Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose $1.41 to $34.24 per barrel. It gained 97 cents, or 3 percent, to $32.84 a barrel in London.

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Nearly 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed around the world, with more than 432,000 of them in the United States. More than 88,000 people have died from the virus, while nearly 330,000 have recovered, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.