U.S. stock futures climb as jobless-claims data deemed ‘welcome news for the Fed’

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U.S. stock index futures bounced back on Thursday after the Nasdaq nearly hit a 30-month low a day earlier as the market looked set to erase some of its recent losses on the second-to-last trading day of the year.

Stock index futures built on early gains after U.S. weekly jobless claims data showed the number of workers receiving benefits has climbed to the highest level since February, a sign that the Fed’s inflation-fighting interest-rate hikes might be working to slow economic growth, market analysts said.

How are stock-index futures trading
  • S&P 500 futures

    rose 27 points, or 0.7%, to 3,834.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures

    added 160 points, or 0.5%, to 33,206.

  • Nasdaq 100 futures

    climbed 112 points, or 1%, to 10,884.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell 366 points, or 1.1%, to 32876, the S&P 500

declined 46 points, or 1.2%, to 3783, and the Nasdaq Composite

dropped 140 points, or 1.35%, to 10213.

The S&P 500 is up 5.8% from its 2022 low hit in mid October, but remains down 20.6% for the year to date.

What’s driving markets

The penultimate session of 2022 was showing tentative signs of delivering some much needed festive cheer for the stock market as a hoped for “Santa Claus rally” has so far failed to materialize.

Equity futures advanced, pointing to stronger gains at the open, as data showed the number of Americans receiving more than a single week of unemployment benefits climbed by 41,000 last week to 1.7 million, the highest level in 10 months.

See: U.S. jobless claims move higher in latest week

The data “points to a loosening in the labor market, which is welcome news for the Fed,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James, in a tweet.

Stocks are on track to finish off their worst year since 2008 not far from their lows of the year. The Nasdaq Composite will start Thursday near its lowest in 30 months, having lost 36.4% since its peak in November 2021.

“This year really needs to end, now!” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, who noted that the latest dip for stocks leaves the U.S. benchmark in a precarious technical position.

Companies in focus
  • Tesla

    rallied again in premarket trade Thursday after posting its first rise in eight sessions Wednesday. The electric-vehicle maker’s shares had declined in seven consecutive sessions, their worst losing streak since a seven-session run that ended on Sept. 15, 2018.

  • Southwest Airlines 

    remains in focus as the airline tries to recover logistical issues that caused thousands of flight cancellations over the past week. The stock is higher Thursday pre-market after falling 11% over the past two days.

  • General Electric’s 

    spin-off of GE HealthCare Technologies will join the S&P 500 index when it begins trading as a separate public company on Jan. 4. GE HealthCare will replace Vornado Realty Trust 
    which will move to the S&P MidCap 400. Vornado will replace logistics company RXO
    which will move to the S&P SmallCap 600. GE HealthCare — trading on a when-issued basis — rose in the premarket, while Vornado was marginally lower and RXO jumped.

  • Cal-Maine 

    slid in premarket trading after its quarterly earnings came in below Wall Street forecasts. Cal-Maine reported record sales for the quarter as an avian flu outbreak continued to limit the supply of eggs, driving prices sharply higher. The company also said there were no positive tests for avian flu at any of its production facilities, as of Wednesday.

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