Thursday May 5th


Futures higher as oil rises; Fed speakers eyed

U.S. stock index futures were higher Thursday morning, helped by gains in oil prices as a huge wildfire near Canada's oil sands and escalating tensions in Libya raised concerns of a near-term supply shortage. Crude oil futures were up more than 4 percent near $45.70 a barrel, while brent traded more than 3.5 percent higher near $46.30 a barrel as of 8:35 a.m. ET. In economic news, weekly jobless claims rose to 274,000. Earlier, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported layoffs by U.S.-based companies accelerated in April, sending year-to-date job cuts to the highest level since 2009. The U.S. dollar index tried for a third-straight day of gains, trading nearly 0.4 percent higher with the euro near $1.143 and the yen at 107.02 yen against the greenback as of 8:37 a.m. ET. The 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields held mostly higher after touching their lowest in at least two weeks on Wednesday. Several members of the Federal Reserve are scheduled to speak later in the day. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is set to speak at 11:50 a.m. ET, while San Francisco Fed President John Williams will appear on CNBC at 1:40 p.m. On the earnings front Alibaba and Merck reported before the bell. News Corp., Yelp and Square are among companies set to report after Wall Street closes. In Asia, markets in Japan were closed on Thursday. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.23 percent higher while Europe's pan European Stoxx 600 Index was up about 0.3 percent Thursday morning ET. As of the close Wednesday, the major U.S. averages were on pace for a weekly decline of more than half a percent. Gold steadied after three sessions of losses on Thursday but remained well below a 15-month peak as the dollar rose on hopes the U.S. economy could bounce back after nearly stalling in the first quarter. Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,282.86 an ounce, though that was still down from Monday's peak. U.S. gold futures rose 0.9 percent to $1,286.10.