Stock futures jump as Wall Street awaits latest jobless claims numbers

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes jumped in early trading Thursday as investors bet on the U.S. economy reopening soon and as oil prices rebounded.

The gains came even as the government’s next jobless claims report was due later Thursday morning and was expected to show another 3 million jobs lost.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 272 points, or more than 1%, and implied an opening gain of about 230 points. S&P 500 futures jumped 1.3% along with Nasdaq futures.

Energy stocks were among the biggest premarket gainers as oil prices jumped 8% on Thursday, bringing their gain for the week to more than 30%. Stocks that would benefit from the reopening of the economy also gained in early trading, including Hilton Worldwide and MGM Resorts.

The overnight moves followed a drop in the Dow and S&P 500 on Wednesday.

The Dow industrials lost 218.45 points (0.9%) to close at 23,664.64 as UnitedHealth and Travelers each shaved off north of 20 points. The S&P 500 dipped 0.7% on Wednesday as a 3.5% decline in utilities stocks and a 2.6% retreat in energy offset gains in information technology and discretionary stocks.The Nasdaq Composite, the only major index to post a gain on Wednesday, rose 0.5% thanks to gains in lockdown plays Netflix (up 2.2%) and Amazon (up 1.4%).

U.S. traders will on Thursday digest the Labor Department’s latest report on jobless claims. Another 3.05 million workers are expected to have filed for benefits during the week ended May 2, which would bring the total number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits over the last six weeks to about 33 million.

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However, the report is likely to show a slowing pace in the jobs decline. Last week’s jobless claims report showed 3.8 million jobs lost and the week before that there were more than 4 million jobs lost.

Investors are also bracing for the Labor Department’s key jobs report on Friday, when economists expect to see the U.S. unemployment rate to have rocketed to 16% in April from 4.4% in March. Dow Jones economists expect nonfarm payrolls to have declined by about 21 million last month.

Meanwhile, China posted better-than-expected exports for April. Data from the General Administration of Customs released on Thursday showed exports rose 3.5% in April, versus expectations of a 15.7% decrease from economists in a Reuters poll. Recent data out of China, where the earliest cases of the coronavirus were reported, have been closely watched by investors as the country was one of the first to ease lockdown measures.

In corporate news, Peloton reported revenues surged 66% during its fiscal third quarter as more Americans bought fitness equipment for at-home use during the coronavirus pandemic. Critically, Peloton said it is seeing demand from new customers who’ve been inspired to buy one of its bikes amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

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