Futures edge lower ahead of weekly jobless claims, GDP numbers

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Thursday, a day after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record closing highs, as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of a barrage of economic data releases and the Federal Reserve’s policy summit.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

U.S. stocks have hit a series of record closing highs in the past few sessions, driven by a much stronger-than-expected earnings season and positive news about COVID-19 vaccinations.

Among earnings-driven moves, cosmetics maker Coty gained 2.8% in premarket trading, while beauty chain Ulta Beauty Inc climbed 5.3%. Dollar General Corp, however, slipped 3.6% after it forecast annual profit below analysts’ estimates.

Discount retailer Dollar Tree Inc, apparel retailers Abercrombie & Fitch Co and Gap Inc and PC makers Dell Technologies Inc and HP Inc are all set to report their quarterly results on Thursday.

Investors will closely watch the Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report, due at 08:30 a.m. ET, ahead of the Fed’s economic symposium in Jackson Hole on Friday, for clues on the timing of the paring of its bond purchases program.

Strategists have projected the benchmark S&P 500 to end the year at 4,500 points, essentially unchanged, expecting the economic recovery as well as earnings growth to lose momentum amid a spike in coronavirus cases and a wind-down of stimulus.

The Bank of Korea raised its policy rate off a record low on Thursday – the first central bank of a major Asian economy to do so – in a transition away from pandemic-era stimulus.

A report is likely to show the U.S. economy grew faster in the second quarter than initially thought, as massive fiscal stimulus and vaccinations against COVID-19 boosted spending.

At 6:52 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 19 points, or 0.05%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.75 points, or 0.06%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 23.75 points, or 0.15%.

NetApp Inc added 3.3% as brokerages raised their price targets on the cloud data services provider’s stock following upbeat first quarter result and better-than expected 2022 earnings outlook.

Among other stocks, oil majors Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp and Schlumberger NV fell 0.5% each, tracking crude prices lower.

Mega-cap technology stocks Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com, and Tesla Inc slipped between 0.1% and 0.4%.

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