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Dow Futures Rise 260 Pts; Trading Remains Volatile Ahead of Jobless Claims

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By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - U.S. stocks are seen opening higher Thursday, rebounding after the previous session’s selloff in the wake of the confirmation of the country’s first case of the omicron variant.

At 7:15 AM ET (1115 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was up 262 points, or 0.8%, S&P 500 Futures traded 17 points, or 0.4%, higher and Nasdaq 100 Futures were flat.

The major indices closed sharply lower Wednesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. The individual, from California but who had recently been in South Africa, is fully vaccinated and said to be isolating and improving.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 460 points, or 1.3%, the broad-based S&P 500 dropped 1.2% and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite dipped 1.8%. After Tuesday’s slump, this represented the worst two-day loss in 14 months.

Wednesday’s selloff, and the expected bounce later Thursday, continue a highly volatile streak for the Wall Street indices as the market tries to digest the potential repercussions from the new variant.

Earlier Thursday, the Biden administration announced the tightening of travel rules, requiring all in-bound international passengers to test for Covid within 24 hours of departure and extending its mask requirement on all domestic flights and public transportation through March 18.

The other focus of investors’ attention is the speed at which the Federal Reserve seeks to normalise monetary policy. In his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Chairman Jerome Powell repeated that speeding up the taper of bond purchases would be on the central bank’s agenda at the December meeting.

This means Friday’s official jobs report will be carefully studied, and ahead of that the weekly initial jobless claims are due at 8:30 AM ET.

Turning to the corporate sector, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be in focus following a Bloomberg report indicating that demand for its latest batch of iPhones is weakening due to price and availability issues.

Crowdstrike (NASDAQ:CRWD), Snowflake (NYSE:SNOW), Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE) and Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) all impressed with their earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday, while the likes of Dollar General (NYSE:DG) and Kroger (NYSE:KR) report earnings before the bell.

Crude prices traded higher Thursday, recovering from the three-months lows hit during the previous session, as traders adjusted their positions ahead of the OPEC+ meeting to decide future output levels.

Expectations are growing that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, will pause plans later Thursday to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply in January.

Capping the gains was news from the Energy Information Administration of a smaller than expected draw from U.S. crude inventories of 910,000 barrels last week.

By 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.3% higher at $66.39 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.1% to $69.63.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,778.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.1342.

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