Thursday May 19th


Futures hold lower amid data

U.S. stock index futures were mildly lower Thursday, after the Federal Reserve's release of the minutes of its April meeting and better-than-expected Wal-Mart earnings. Traders also eyed data and awaited comments from Fed policymakers. The Fed minutes, published Wednesday afternoon, pointed to a rate hike if economic data improves. Weekly jobless claims declined to 278,000, after three weeks of increases. The May Philly Fed index showed minus 1.8. Treasury yields held higher, with the 2-year yield around 0.9 percent and the 10-year yield around 1.87 percent. The U.S. dollar index extended gains to trade 0.4 percent higher, with the euro near $1.119 and the yen near 110.12 yen against the greenback as of 8:40 a.m. ET. New York Fed President William Dudley and Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer are both set to speak Thursday. Leading indicators are due at 10:00 a.m. On the earnings front, Wal-Mart reported better-than-expected quarterly results, posting earnings of 98 cents a share on revenue of $115.9 billion. Shares were up about 8 percent in pre-market trade. Applied Materials, Autodesk and Gap are among companies set to report after the bell. In Europe, the pan European Stoxx 600 Index was down about 0.5 percent on Thursday, as the search for an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo, which disappeared from radar earlier this morning, continued. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 0.01 percent higher on Thursday. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.02 percent lower. Oil fell below $48 a barrel on Thursday, pressured by a stronger dollar and Wednesday's surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories. Supply losses in Canada and Nigeria have lent support, but cooler weather was expected to help firefighters battling Canadian wildfires. Traders said Exxon Mobil is boosting output at Nigeria's largest crude stream. Brent crude was down $1.11 at $47.82 by 8:55 a.m. ET (1255 GMT). It reached a 2016 high of $49.85 on Wednesday, only to close lower. U.S. crude was down 90 cents at $47.29. Gold fell to a three-week low on Thursday, extending the previous day's slide, after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting signalled it could raise U.S. rates as soon as next month. The minutes, from the Fed's April meeting, indicated that the U.S. central bank will likely raise interest rates in June if economic data points to stronger second-quarter growth as well as firming inflation and employment. Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,249.86 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $23.50 an ounce at $1,250.90. Spot prices fell 1.7 percent on Wednesday.