Stock futures trade cautiously ahead of jobless claims

The Labor Department is expected to say the number of claims for unemployment benefits declined for a second straight week to 1.12 million

U.S. equity futures are trading lower ahead of the Thursday Wall Street session.

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One report that could set the stage for the trading day would be jobless claims. The Labor Department is expected to say the number of claims for unemployment benefits declined for a second straight week to 1.12 million, down from 1.186 million the prior week. That would be the lowest in almost 5 months, but would also mark the 21st week in which claims have topped 1 million. Since the coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March some 55.32 million people have filed for jobless benefits.

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Also on tap will be import and export prices for July. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv are looking for import prices to increase 0.6%, less than half the rise in June. Export prices are anticipated to increase 0.4% from June.

In Europe, London's FTSE is down 0.9%, Germany's DAX is off 0.2% and France's CAC declined 0.2%.

Asian shares were mostly higher on Thursday, cheered by the rally on Wall Street that's likely a boon for export-driven regional economies, even as investors worry about the coronanvirus pandemic.

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Japan's benchmark Nikkei jumped 1.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1% and China's Shanghai Composite index was flat.

Stocks marched broadly higher in the Wednesday session, briefly nudging the S&P 500 above its all-time closing high set in February before the pandemic led to a historic market plunge.

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%

The S&P 500 rose 1.4% to 3,380.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1%, to 27,976.84. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 2.1%, to 11,012.24.

The U.S. stock market is poised to erase the last of the losses taken after the coronavirus pandemic crushed the economy into recession, even though the economy is still hobbling despite some recent improvements.

Much of the rebound has been due to massive amounts of support from the Federal Reserve, which has slashed interest rates to nearly zero and propped up far-ranging corners of the bond market to keep the economy afloat. The ultra-low interest rates mean investors are getting paid very little to own bonds, which pushes some into stocks, boosting their prices.

Congress has also offered unprecedented amounts of aid, though it’s hit a seeming impasse in negotiations for a fresh stimulus spending package.

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In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude slipped 2 cents to $42.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.06 to $42.67 a barrel on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.