Nasdaq futures edge higher ahead of weekly jobless claims data

(Reuters) – Futures tracking the Nasdaq index edged higher on Thursday, with mega-cap technology stocks leading gains ahead of a weekly unemployment report that will allow investors to gauge the strength of the labor market.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The Labor Department’s report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show the number of Americans filing for new claims for unemployment benefits fell for the week ended July 10.

A separate report by the Philadelphia Fed on its business conditions index is also scheduled later in the day.

Wall Street has been spearheaded by worries about higher inflation and positive economic data since mid-June, with investors fretting over a sooner-than expected hawkish shift by the Federal Reserve on its monetary policy, that hinges on an equitable recovery of the jobs market.

On his first day of testimony before Congress, Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday said he is confident recent price hikes are associated with the country’s post-pandemic reopening and will fade, and that the central bank should stay focused on getting as many people back to work as possible.

The “powerful support” pledge assuaged some concerns over price pressures, helping the S&P 500 and the Dow end a choppy session with small gains.

Powell is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee at 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT).

Meanwhile, the second-quarter earnings season started on a strong note this week, with the four largest U.S. lenders – Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co – posting a combined $33 billion in profits, buoyed by the release of $9 billion in reserves they had put aside last year to absorb feared pandemic losses.

Their shares were down between 0.7% and 0.8% in premarket trading, while Morgan Stanley edged 0.8% lower ahead of its results before the bell on Thursday.

At 6:32 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 189 points, or 0.54% and S&P 500 e-minis were down 14.75 points, or 0.34%,

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 13.5 points, or 0.09%, with heavyweights Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp,, Google owner Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc gaining between 0.1% and 0.4%.

Netflix Inc added 2.5% after UBS raised its price target and the streaming giant hired a former Facebook executive to lead its video games unit to ramp up its efforts to grow beyond its traditional streaming business.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc rose 1.5% after Citigroup upgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “neutral” from “sell”.

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