U.S. Stocks May Give Back Ground In Early Trading

Following the rally seen in the previous session, stocks may give back some ground in early trading on Thursday. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, although the Dow futures have recently turned positive.

Profit taking may contribute to initial weakness on Wall Street, as traders cash in on some of the recent strength in the markets.

Stocks have continued to trend higher in recent weeks, leading some analysts to suggest the recovery by the markets has been overdone.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both ended Wednesday’s trading at record closing highs, while the Dow reached its best closing level in over six months.

However, any early selling pressure may be partly offset by a report from the Labor Department showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended August 29th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims declined to 881,000, a decrease of 130,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1.011 million.

Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 950,000 from the 1.006 million originally reported for the previous week.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for August, with employment expected to surge up by 1.4 million jobs.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit widened by much more than expected in July, as imports spiked by more than exports.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit expanded to $63.6 billion in July from a revised $53.5 billion in June.

Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $58.0 billion from the $50.7 billion originally reported for the previous month.

Not long after the start of trading, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its report on service sector activity in the month of August.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing index is expected to edge down to 57.0 in August from 58.1 in July, although a reading above 50 would still indicate growth in the service sector.

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the upward move seen in the previous session. With the continued advance, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 once again reached new record closing highs.

The major averages pulled back off their highs going into the close but held on to strong gains. The Dow spiked 454.84 points or 1.6 percent to 29,100.50, the Nasdaq jumped 116.78 points or 1 percent to 12,056.44 and the S&P 500 surged up 54.19 points or 1.5 percent to 3,580.84.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Wednesday, although stocks in China and Hong Kong bucked the uptrend. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi jumped by 1.3 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has surged up by 1.6 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.62 to $40.81 a barrel after slumping $1.25 to $41.51 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after plunging $34.20 to $1,944.70 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slipping $3 to $1,941.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.44 yen versus the 106.18 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1832 compared to yesterday’s $1.1855.

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