Market Snapshot: Stock futures slightly higher, S&P 500 near record

Market Snapshot: Stock futures slightly higher, S&P 500 near record

U.S. stock-index futures were slightly higher on Thursday, indicating the market’s upswing remains intact, with major indexes edging ever closer to record levels.

Where are the major benchmarks trading?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMU8, +0.47%  rose 24 points to 26,486 while S&P 500 futures ESU8, +0.38%  rose 2 points to 2,917 and futures for the Nasdaq-100 NQU8, +0.58%  were up 7 points to 7,533.75. All three were up about 0.1%.

On Wednesday, both the Dow DJIA, +0.61% and the S&P SPX, +0.13%  rose, with the S&P posting its seventh rise of the past eight sessions. That left the benchmark index just 0.3% below its all-time closing high, while the Dow is 0.8% below its own. If the Dow were to hit a record, that would put an end to its longest streak without a record since the stretch that occurred between May 2015 and July 2016, according to the Dow Jones Data Group.

The Nasdaq COMP, -0.08%  fell slightly on Wednesday, pressured by the latest leg lower in technology stocks, one of the worst-performing sectors of September.

Read about how recent trading on Wall Street has been quiet and lacking in volatility

What’s driving markets?

Trading on Wall Street has been relatively subdued now that earnings season is largely over and there have been few major economic indicators released this week. That has left an opening for markets to be driven by the latest developments on trade.

Among recent developments, President Donald Trump earlier this week reiterated his hard-line stance on China and said the U.S. had “no choice” but to levy another $267 billion in duties on China. That would come on top of announced tariffs on about $200 billion in Chinese goods announced late Monday. China responded with tariffs of 5% to 10% on $60 billion worth of U.S. products that will take effect Sept. 24, and said it may introduce more measures if the U.S. goes ahead with higher tariffs.

Technology stocks have had some of the highest correlation to the trade issue as they generate a hefty percentage of their revenue from outside the U.S. and because they depend on Asian markets for their supply chains. The sector is down 2% thus far this month, making it the largest drag on stocks in September. Year-to-date, however, it is up 17.6%, far above the S&P’s 8.8% rise.

While many are concerned that a full-blown trade war will become a huge headwind to global economic growth, investors have repeatedly shrugged off the issue over the past several months, choosing instead to focus on signs of improving economic fundamentals.

Read: How trade-war fears have become less of a factor for stock-market investors

See also: Not just tech: The stock-market rally is broader than it’s given credit for

Trading on Thursday could also be driven by the latest economic data, which will include weekly jobless claims and the September Philadelphia Fed index, which is seen rising to 19.6 from 11.9 in the previous month. Both will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. After the market opens, reads on existing-home sales and leading economic indicators, both for August, will be released, as will a read on second-quarter household debt.

What are market analysts saying?

”Trade tensions have stepped up, but you wouldn’t know it to look at European and U.S. equity markets. The $200 billion worth of tariffs from Trump, and Beijing’s reaction weren’t exactly a surprise. Investors are cautiously optimistic as that round of tariffs weren’t too severe,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

What stocks are in focus?

Shares of Red Hat Inc. RHT, +0.32%  fell 5.4% in premarket trading a day after it reported revenue that was below expectations and gave an outlook that was below the analyst consensus.

Broadly speaking, the financial sector XLF, +1.70%  could continue to attract attention a day after it closed at a multimonth high, a move that coincided with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note nearing its highest level of the year.

Marijuana producer Tilray Inc. TLRY, +38.12%  will likely remain in focus following an extremely volatile patch of trading, which resulted in it being halted five times in less than an hour on Wednesday. The stock has jumped nearly 600% over the course of the past month, making it one of the most high-profile bets in the legal cannabis space.

Mining giant Rio Tinto RIO, +2.87%  unveiled plans to buy back a swath of its Australia-listed shares before the end of the year as part of its move to return about $3.2 billion in proceeds from the sale of coal assets to its shareholders.

British regulators said Comcast Corp. CMCSA, -1.11%  and 21st Century Fox Inc. FOXA, +0.18%  will settle their takeover battle for Sky PLC via an auction starting Friday.

Micron Technology Inc. MU, -0.60%  could be in focus. The chip maker is scheduled to report its quarterly results after the market closes.

Read a preview of Micron’s earnings

Where are other markets trading?

Asian stocks mostly rose on Thursday, as investors mostly shrugged off the trade tensions with the U.S. Japan’s Nikkei rose for a fifth straight session.

Crude-oil prices CLK9, -0.19%  rose 0.5% while the price of gold GCM9, -0.17%  was little changed. The U.S. dollar index DXY, -0.71%  lost 0.3%.

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