U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday morning as traders eyed a big batch of data and continued to digest the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to increase interest rates. Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 241,000. Housing ...
U.S. equity benchmarks on Thursday looked on track to add to its Federal Reserve-fueled rally, with investors expressing enthusiasm over the central bank’s less-hawkish-than-expected posture. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
climbed 55 points, or 0.3%, to 20,520, while those for the S&P 500 index
gained 3.40 points, or 0.2%, to 2,384.25. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index
added 9.75 points, or 0.2%, to 5,428.25. The upbeat Thursday mood comes after a positive close for all three benchmarks on Wednesday, when the Fed raised interest rates, but indicated it will only tighten two more times this year. Markets had braced for a more hawkish outlook and possibly three additional rate increases in 2017. The S&P 500 index
jumped 0.8%, the Dow average
rose 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite
closed 0.7% higher, a few points shy of an all-time closing high.
Fed enters new phase of raising rates(1:36)WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath explains why the Federal Reserve's decision Wednesday to raise short-term interest rates signals a new tightening phase due to the healthy economy. Photo: EAP
“Markets took it as a dovish signal that the Fed is going to only cautiously tighten as the economy improves. The message was that the economy is firing but inflation is not going to be an issue. It’s in no hurry to raise rates and that is good news for equities,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst, in a note. The dollar dropped roughly 1% after the Fed announcement and continued lower on Thursday. The ICE Dollar Index
fell 0.2% to 100.59, according to FactSet data. The weaker greenback boosted dollar-denominated commodities, such as gold, with the metal
up 2.6% at $1,231.70 an ounce. Crude oil
was also rising, up 0.6% at $49.17 a barrel. A softer dollar tends to be supportive for assets priced in the currency, making them more attractive to buyers using other monetary units. Dutch election: Trading sentiment in Europe and the U.S. was also buoyed by the preliminary result of the Dutch election. With most of the votes counted, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party looked to have won the most seats in parliament, defeating populist, far-right candidate Geert Wilders. Read: Euro hits five-week high on Dutch election The vote in the Netherlands has drawn a lot of attention globally as it has been seen as a bellwether for the string of elections taking place in Europe later this year, including France in April, Germany in the fall and potentially Italy in the summer. Across the continent, anti-EU, populist parties are racing ahead in the polls, raising concerns some countries could leave the eurozone or the EU. “Markets will of course now turn their attention to France, where the candidacy of the far-right Marine Le Pen arguably poses greater risks,” said Anna Stupnytska, global economist at Fidelity International, in a note. “To whatever extent this vote is a signal on France, the high turnout and rally around towards the mainstream center look bad for her. The structure of the French presidential election also create additional obstacles to any far-right victory in France. As such, the Dutch result may be remembered as the turning point in the popularity of populism for 2017,” she added. Economic news: Weekly jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 241,000 in mid-March, as layoffs remained near the lowest level in decades, in line with expectations. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s monthly index on regional manufacturers fell to 32.8 in March from 43.3 in February, which was the highest reading in 33 years, according to data released Thursday. See: MarketWatch’s economic calender In the U.K., the Bank of England left its key interest rate at a record low of 0.25% as expected. The pound
jumped to $1.2356, from $1.2269 ahead of the decision. Stock movers: Shares of Oracle Corp.
jumped 7% ahead of the bell, after the software giant late Wednesday reported fiscal third-quarter earnings above expectations. GoPro Inc.
rallied 10% premarket after the sports-camera maker late Wednesday announced job cuts and said it expects to be profitable on an adjusted basis in 2017. Guess? Inc.
tumbled 14% ahead of the open after its late-Wednesday earnings report missed forecasts. Williams-Sonoma Inc.
put on 3.1% ahead of the open. The retailer late Wednesday reported earnings that beat forecasts and raised dividends. In earnings news on Thursday, Dollar General Corp.
reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit and sales that beat expectations, but shares fell 0.7% premarket. Adobe Systems Inc.
earnings are on tap after hours. Canada Goose Holdings Inc.
priced its initial public offering at C$17 a share, above the expected range of $C14 a share to C$16 a share. Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed sharply higher, rallying after the Fed announcement. It was the same sentiment in Europe, where the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index
traded at its highest since December 2015.
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