Stocks – U.S. Futures Head Lower; Jobless Claims Data Eyed

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By Peter Nurse    

Investing.com – U.S. stocks are set to open lower Thursday, with investors still wary about the impact on corporate America of the measures introduced to combat the coronavirus pandemic, although losses are seen being less severe than of late.

At 6:55 AM ET (1055 GMT), futures for the traded 40 points, or 1.7%, lower, futures for the down 59 points, or 0.8%, while the futures contract fell 352 points, or 1.8%. These contracts have been stopped limit down in previous sessions, which happens when the losses are greater than 5%.

Late Wednesday, the Federal Reserve rolled out its third emergency credit program in two days, aimed at keeping the $3.8 trillion money market mutual fund industry functioning.

This follows the U.S. central bank slashing interest rates to near zero and pledging hundreds of billions of dollars in asset purchases last weekend, while President Donald Trump’s administration has drawn up a $1 trillion stimulus and rescue proposal, in addition to the $500 billion passed by the Senate late on Wednesday.

However, investors have yet to be convinced these policies will be sufficient to insulate corporate America from the damage caused by the shuttering of restaurants and bars, the paralyzing of transportation systems and the depletion of shops.

The trade group for the U.S. airline industry has already asked the Federal government for nearly $60 billion in direct assistance and loan guarantees, dwarfing the $15 billion made available after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While the big three automakers in Detroit – Ford (NYSE:), General Motors (NYSE:) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:)- have confirmed they would be temporarily shutting U.S. plants, as well as factories in Canada and Mexico. Hotel operator Marriott has furloughed tens of thousands of workers, while Lyft (NASDAQ:) and Uber (NYSE:) have restricted their ride-sharing services. 

With this in mind, eyes will focus on the release of the , 08:30 AM ET (1230 GMT), which cover the week ended March 14. 

“We should expect to see a big jump already here and we should expect the number to jump even further in the weeks to come,” said Danske Bank, in a research note. “This is one of the fastest indicators we will get for the impact of the U.S. measures implemented to slow down the coronavirus spreading. This will eventually be decisive for how much the politicians will do in the U.S. to offset the crisis.”

Oil prices have seen some relief buying Thursday after a heavy sell-off in the previous session, but they remain under the $30 mark. 

Global benchmark Brent tumbled 13% on Wednesday, while U.S. crude oil lost nearly 25%.  

AT 06:55 AM ET (1055 GMT), futures traded 11% higher at $23.22 a barrel.    rose 6.2% to $26.43.

Additionally, dropped 0.1% to $1,476.30/oz, while traded at $1.0799, down 1% as the dollar continued its surge against almost all currencies from China to Switzerland and Russia. The , which tracks the greenback against basket of developed market currencies, rose to its highest in over three years overnight to trade after the European Central Bank and its peers in Australia and Switzerland all announced further stimulus packages.

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