US futures rise ahead of jobless claims and Fed speeches, while oil extends rally as outlook brightens

A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith
A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange

US stock index futures climbed on Thursday as investors awaited the release of weekly jobless claims data and prepared to digest a series of speeches from Federal Reserve officials.

Meanwhile, oil prices extended their rally as the outlook for the global economy brightened, with vaccine rollouts spurring expectations of strong demand for energy in the coming months. Oil is on course for a third straight monthly gain in June.

In Europe, stocks rose ahead of the Bank of England’s interest rate decision. It is expected to leave monetary policy on hold but investors will scrutinize the decision for signs of concerns about inflation, which jumped above the Bank’s 2% target in May.

Futures for the US benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.41%, after the index slipped slightly on Wednesday. Dow Jones futures climbed 0.4% while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.54%.

Europe’s Stoxx 600 rose 0.59% in early European trading, while London’s FTSE 100 was 0.2% higher. China’s CSI 300 climbed 0.17% overnight while Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat.

Investors awaited US jobless claims data on Thursday, after a quiet week on the economics front. Economists expect weekly initial jobless claims to drop below 400,000, after a surprise rise to 412,000 the previous week.

John Williams, the President of the New York Fed, and Raphael Bostic, Atlanta Fed President, are among the key central bank officials making public comments on Thursday. Investors will parse their words for any hints about the future direction of US monetary policy.

On Wednesday, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he thought the central bank would have to start cutting back its support sooner than people expected, moving markets somewhat.

“As we make substantial further progress… I think we’d be far better off, from a risk-management point of view, beginning to adjust these purchases of Treasuries,” he told Bloomberg.

The yield on the key 10-year US Treasury note climbed 1.3 basis points to 1.5% on Thursday. The dollar index slipped 0.08% to 91.73.

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at currency group Oanda, said the light economic calendar means “we will remain at the mercy of Fed-speak and a schizophrenic intra-day market.”

However, investors will get a clearer sense of what global central banks are thinking about inflation and their support packages when the Bank of England makes its interest rate decision at 7.00 a.m. ET.

Elsewhere in markets, oil prices extended their rally. Brent crude rose 0.6% to $75.64 a barrel while WTI crude climbed 0.53% to $73.47.

Prices have risen by almost a quarter in the last three months, as the outlook for the global economy has brightened, and investors feel secure that the OPEC+ group of oil producing countries will closely manage supply.

Bitcoin’s recovery – which saw the price rise above $34,000 on Wednesday and dropping below $30,000 a day earlier – ran into trouble. The cryptocurrency was down 0.4% on Thursday at $32,913.

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