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Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 259 points, implying a Thursday opening gain of about 220 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also pointed to opening gains for the two indexes on Thursday.
The overnight moves followed a drop in the Dow and S&P 500 during normal trading hours on Wednesday.
Dow industrials lost 218.45 points (0.9%) to close at 23,664.64 as UnitedHealth and Travelers Companies each shaved off north of 20 points. The S&P 500 dipped 0.7% on Wednesday as a 3.5% decline in utilities stocks and a 2.6% retreat in energy offset gains in information technology and discretionary stocks.
The Nasdaq Composite, the only major index to post a gain on Wednesday, rose 0.5% thanks to gains in lockdown plays Netflix (up 2.2%) and Amazon (up 1.4%).
The Labor Department’s prior jobless claims reports have shown that the number of Americans who have filed for unemployment insurance benefits amid government-imposed business closures has reached historic benchmarks. Claims numbers since March now exceed the 22.442 million positions added to the American economy since November 2009, when the U.S. economy began to add jobs back to the economy after the Great Recession.
Investors are also bracing for the Labor Department’s key jobs report on Friday, when economists expect to see the U.S. unemployment rate to have rocketed to 16% in April from 4.4% in March. Dow Jones economists expect nonfarm payrolls to have declined by about 21 million last month.
Meanwhile, China posted better-than-expected exports for April. Data from the General Administration of Customs released on Thursday showed exports rose 3.5% in April, versus expectations of a 15.7% decrease from economists in a Reuters poll. Recent data out of China, where the earliest cases of the coronavirus were reported, have been closely watched by investors as the country was one of the first to ease lockdown measures.
In corporate news, Peloton reported revenues surged 66% during its fiscal third quarter as more Americans bought fitness equipment for at-home use during the coronavirus pandemic. Critically, Peloton said it is seeing demand from new customers who’ve been inspired to buy one of its bikes amid the Covid-19 outbreak.