Global Economy

U.S. stock futures flat after Nasdaq hits another record, jobless claims data ahead

Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes traded flat at the start of the overnight session Wednesday evening just hours after the Nasdaq Composite clinched its 31st record close for 2020.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures shed just 4 points at the start of the overnight session, implying an opening move around the flatline when regular trading resumes. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures also posted muted trades.

The after-hours moves Wednesday evening followed a positive regular session on Wednesday, with the major indexes brushing off a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report and the Dow rising some 370 points.

Cyclical sectors including industrials, materials and financials contributed the most to the market’s gains during regular trading on Wednesday and allowed the Dow industrials (up 1.39%) and S&P 500 (up 0.64%) to outpace the Nasdaq Composite (up 0.52%).

Still, the Composite did manage to clinch yet another record close for the year and at one point Wednesday traded above 11,000 for the first time. The major market indexes are having a robust week, up 2.9%, 1.7% and 2.3%, respectively, since Friday’s close.

Some of the market’s optimism on Wednesday came after reports said that the nation’s top lawmakers are making more material progress toward a coronavirus relief bill.

The most recent sign of compromise came from the White House, which appeared to yield slightly on its opposition to continued federal support for unemployment benefits. The Trump team offered to extend extra federal unemployment insurance into December at $400 per week, NBC News and Politico reported.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also offered to extend a moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing into December. Democrats, meanwhile, cut their request for U.S. Postal Service funding to $10 billion from $25 billion, according to the reports.

The latest iteration of the Labor Department report on weekly jobless claims will be released Thursday morning.

The weekly figures provide Wall Street with critical insight on how many Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims.

Another 1.423 million workers are expected to have filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits during the week ended August 1. That would mark a deceleration from the prior week, though still well above any reading prior to the pre-Covid era. 

Last week, the government said initial jobless claims rose by 1.434 million during the week ended July 25. That marked the 19th straight week in which initial claims remained above 1 million.


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