Thursday April 23rd


US stock futures are flat as investors digest oil turbulence, latest jobless claims

U.S. stock index futures were flat Thursday as investors took a breather after three volatile sessions. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up just 1 point. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also up slightly. The muted moves followed a bounce in U.S. equities during normal trading hours on Wednesday that helped pare the S&P 500′s 4.8% slide over Monday and Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 456.94 points, or 1.99%, to 23,475.82 during Wednesday’s session. The S&P 500 gained 2.29% to 2,799.31 while the Nasdaq Composite closed 2.8% higher at 8,495.38. Violent fluctuations in the price of oil have kept markets on edge this week as a slide in demand the result of the coronavirus and persistent oversupply keep pressure on crude. Though West Texas Intermediate crude is down more than 70% from highs north of $60 per barrel earlier this year, its bounce on Wednesday pacified investors who worried that the futures contracts could fall back into negative territory as they did on Monday. The contract for June delivery settled up 19% at $13.78 per barrel on Wednesday after President Donald Trump tweeted that he’d “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” WTI contract for May delivery plunged below zero to trade in negative territory on the first day of the week for the first time ever. A day later, the more actively traded June contract fell 43.37% to settle at $11.57. Brent and WTI crude futures were last seen trading up 8% and 3.7%, respectively. U.S. traders on Thursday digested the Labor Department’s latest report on jobless claims. Another 4.4 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to data from the Labor Department. That brought the five-week jobless claims total to more than 26 million, erasing all the job gains since the Great Recession. Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday as oil prices continued their overnight rebound that recouped some recent losses. Japan’s Nikkei 225 led gains among the region’s major markets as it rose 1.52% to close at 19,429.44 while the Topix index gained 1.36% to finish its trading day at 1,425.98. Mainland Chinese stocks dipped on the day, with the Shanghai composite 0.19% lower to about 2,838.50 while the Shenzhen composite shed 0.5% to 1,763.03. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added about 0.3%, as of its final hour of trading. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.98% higher at 1,914.73. Gold rose to a one-week high on Thursday on the expectation of more stimulus from major central banks to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, with most countries extending lockdowns to curtail its spread. Spot gold was up 0.6% at $1,724.39 per ounce by 1004 GMT. U.S. gold futures gained 0.5% at $1,747.50.