Stocks futures little changed ahead of initial jobless claims data

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Source: The New York Stock Exchange

Stock futures were mostly flat on Wednesday evening ahead of the release of a key indicator for the job market.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 10 points, or less than 0.1%. Those for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 hovered even closer to the flat line.

The move in futures comes after a Wednesday session in which the broad market struggled to pick a clear direction. The Dow, buoyed by Chevron and Verizon, ticked slightly higher to set a new record, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite closed in negative territory.

Investors will get several new pieces of economic data on Thursday to gauge the pace of the U.S. recovery, including initial jobless claims. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones are expecting 773,000 new claims, a slight decrease from the prior week. Housing and manufacturing data is also due out on Thursday morning.

Those economic readings come on the heels of big jumps for retail sales and producer prices in data released Wednesday.

The data releases come as corporate America wraps up a strong earnings season and policymakers in Washington bargain on another round of stimulus. Cliff Hodge, the chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth, said that finalizing the stimulus deal could provide another move higher for the markets even if it is somewhat priced in already.

“When you think about how the additional stimulus can affect the average consumer, with the CARES Act 1.0 and the second round of checks really boosting savings, at this point we really feel strongly that additional stimulus will go directly into the economy,” Hodge said.

Investors are closely watching price movements outside of equities, where Treasury yields are trading near one-year highs and oil and gas prices have soared amid the cold snap in Texas.

The Congressional hearings on the GameStop saga are also set to begin on Thursday, with leaders of Melvin Capital and Robinhood joining Reddit trader Keith Gill at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services.

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