U.S. Stocks May Continue To Give Back Ground In Early Trading

After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks are likely to see further downside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 112 points.

A negative reaction to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement may continue to weigh on stocks after the central bank moved up its timeline for raising interest rates.

The Fed previously predicted that interest rates would remain at near-zero levels through 2023, but the latest projections point to two rate hikes during that year.

The shift in the timeline comes as the Fed also forecast much faster core consumer price inflation this year, although the accompanying statement still attributed the increase in inflation to “transitory factors.”

The statement did not hint at a shift in Fed officials’ thinking about the central bank’s asset purchase program, but the new interest rate forecast still suggests tapering is likely in the coming months.

The Fed’s asset purchase program has been credited with helping to prop up the stock markets during the coronavirus pandemic, with stocks reaching record highs despite significant economic hardship.

On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected uptick in initial jobless claims in the week ended June 12th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 412,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 375,000.

The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 359,000 from the 376,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims had declined in eight out of the nine previous weeks, falling to their lowest levels since March of 2020.

A separate report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity expanded at a slightly slower rate in the month of June.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of May. The leading economic index is expected jump by 1.3 percent.

Reflecting a negative reaction to the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated monetary policy announcement, stocks finished Wednesday’s trading mostly lower. With the drop on the day, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 pulled back further off Monday’s record closing highs.

The major averages climbed well off their lows of the session but still closed in negative territory. The Dow slid 265.66 points or 0.8 percent to 34,033.67, the Nasdaq dipped 33.17 points or 0.2 percent to 14,039.68 and the S&P 500 fell 22.89 points or 0.5 percent to 4,223.70.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index crept up by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling $0.35 to $71.80 a barrel after inching up $0.03 to $72.15 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after rising $5 to $1,861.40 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are plummeting $77.80 to $1,783.60 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.58 yen versus the 110.71 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1935 compared to yesterday’s $1.1995.

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