Futures Ease on Thursday After a Sharp Prior-Day Run-Up
U.S. stock futures eased ahead of jobless-claims data, pausing after a sharp run-up in the previous session, as investors digested weak data out of China.
About 90 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 17 points, or 0.1%, to 16243. Dow futures pared losses of as much as 61 points seen in overnight trading.
S&P 500 index futures lost two points, or 0.1%, to 1863 and Nasdaq NDAQ +0.20%-100 futures gave up five points, or 0.1%, to 3586. Changes in stock futures don’t always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.
On Wednesday, stocks rallied, led for a second-straight session by sharp gains in the recently hard-hit technology sector. Investors cheered after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting indicated officials wanted to avoid the perception it is more willing to tighten policy.
The S&P 500 rose 1.1% and the tech-oriented Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 1.7% on Wednesday, both the biggest one-day percentage gains since March 4.
Stocks futures initially sold off after disappointing trade data out of China, which threw more doubt around the growth prospects of the world’s second-largest economy. China’s exports in March dropped 6.6% on the year, versus expectations of a rise of more than 4%. Imports dropped 11.3%.
“Once investors had time to digest the Chinese data, the market can now look beyond it,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of New York-based investment firm Sarhan Capital. “The broader market is still acting well, and shallow pullbacks in size and scope are providing buying opportunities.”
“What we saw [Wednesday] was a lot of repair work with respect to sentiment,” Mr. Sarhan added, after the Fed made it clear that it would remain accommodative.
On the economic calendar, initial claims for jobless benefits in the latest week, due out at 8:30 a.m. ET, are expected to slip to 320,000 from an original estimate of 326,000 the week before. At the same time, import prices for March are seen increasing 0.2% on the month.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 2.664% from 2.684% late Tuesday.
Crude-oil futures lost 0.4% to $103.20 a barrel, after running up 3.1% the previous two sessions. Gold futures gained 1.2% to $1,322.10 an ounce. The dollar lost ground against the euro and the yen.
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.1%, swinging back into positive territory after the Chinese data prompted earlier weakness.
Germany’s DAX 30 index gained 0.4%, France’s CAC 40 tacked on 0.2% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.5% as the Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate unchanged, as expected.
Asian markets were broadly higher. China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 1.4%, with plans to allow cross-market stock investment by mainland and Hong Kong investors offset weak trade data. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average inched up fractionally to snap a four-session losing streak.
In corporate news, U.S. drugstore Rite Aid rallied 9.7% in premarket trading after it reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings topped analyst estimates and revenue rose in line with forecasts.
Bed Bath & Beyond dropped 6.5% after the home-goods retailer reported late Wednesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings matched analyst estimates, but the company provided a first-quarter outlook that was below current projections.
Imperva tumbled 37% after the data-center security provider lowered its outlook for first-quarter revenue and widened its loss outlook, citing order delays, particularly from U.S. customers.