Thursday February 18th


Stock futures fall amid disappointing jobless claims data, Apple and Tesla shares decline

U.S. stock index futures slid early Thursday morning amid worse-than-expected jobless claims, while investors continued to rotate out of high-flying tech stocks. Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked lower by 150 points. S&P 500 futures fell 0.5%. Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.8%. First-time filings for unemployment insurance totaled 861,000 last week, the highest level in a month and above the Dow Jones estimate of 773,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Shares of Apple fell again in premarket trading, down 1.5%. Apple shares are down 3% so far this week as investors take some profits in the Big Tech stocks that have led the market back to a record. Tesla was also lower in the premarket, down more than 2%. Walmart shares declined after its fourth-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street estimates. Walmart was down 4% in premarket trading. The move in futures comes after a Wednesday session in which the broad market struggled to pick a clear direction. The Dow, buoyed by Chevron and Verizon, ticked slightly higher to set a new record, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite closed in negative territory. Corporate America is wrapping up a strong earnings season and policymakers in Washington bargain on another round of stimulus. Cliff Hodge, the chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth, said that finalizing the stimulus deal could provide another move higher for the markets even if it is somewhat priced in already. “When you think about how the additional stimulus can affect the average consumer, with the CARES Act 1.0 and the second round of checks really boosting savings, at this point we really feel strongly that additional stimulus will go directly into the economy,” Hodge said. Investors are closely watching price movements outside of equities, where Treasury yields are trading near one-year highs and oil and gas prices have soared amid the cold snap in Texas. The Congressional hearings on the GameStop saga are also set to begin on Thursday, with leaders of Melvin Capital and Robinhood joining Reddit trader Keith Gill at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services. Stocks in Asia-Pacific were lower on Thursday, as mainland Chinese markets returned to trade after a long Lunar New Year break. By the Thursday market close on the mainland, the Shanghai composite rose 0.55% to 3,675.36 while the Shenzhen component fell 1.22% to about 15,767.44. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped more than 1%, as of its final hour of trading. The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 0.19% lower at 30,236.09 while the Topix index declined 1% to finish its trading day at 1,941.91. South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.5% to close at 3,086.66. Oil prices rose as much as a dollar on Thursday, extending this week’s gains and hitting 13-month highs, as a cold snap sweeping Texas and surrounding regions shut at least a fifth of U.S. refining output and a million barrels of crude production. Brent crude climbed 93 cents, or 1.5%, to $65.27 a barrel by 0219 GMT, touching its highest since Jan. 20, 2020. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 76 cents, or 1.2%, to $61.90 a barrel, registering its highest since Jan. 8, 2020. Gold extended its slide to a fifth session on Wednesday, dipping to its lowest in more than two months as bets for an economic recovery boosted the dollar and benchmark U.S. Treasury yields. Spot gold was down 1.2% at $1,773.72 per ounce, having hit its lowest since Nov. 30 at $1,768.60 earlier. U.S. gold futures settled down 1.5% at $1,772.80.