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

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After climbing to new record highs in the previous session, stocks may give back some ground in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 175 points.

Profit taking may contribute to early weakness on Wall Street, as traders cash in on recent gains amid news of a jump in new coronavirus cases.

Officials revealed an additional 242 deaths from the coronavirus in the Chinese province of Hubei as well as 14,840 new confirmed cases.

While the jump in confirmed cases was partly due to the adoption of new methodology for counting infections, the spike may still lead to renewed fears about the outbreak.

However, traders have recently been able to shrug off concerns about the coronavirus amid optimism that the outbreak will eventually be contained.

Any initial weakness on Wall Street may subsequently be seen as another buying opportunity even as a number of companies continue to warn about the impact of the outbreak.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest increase in consumer prices in the month of January.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in January after rising by 0.2 percent in December. Economists had expected prices to increase by 0.2 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, rose by 0.2 percent in January after ticking up by 0.1 percent in the previous month. The increase in core prices matched economist estimates.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits inched up by less than expected in the week ended February 8th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 205,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 203,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 210,000 from the 202,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Stocks showed a strong move to the upside during trading on Wednesday, adding to the modest gains posted on Tuesday. The upward move on the day lifted the major averages to new record closing highs.

The major averages reached new highs late in the session but gave back some ground going into the close. The Dow jumped 275.08 points or 0.9 percent to 29,551.42, the Nasdaq advanced 87.02 points or 0.9 percent to 9,725.96 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.70 points or 0.7 percent at 3,379.45.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has plunged by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.4 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are edging down $0.10 to $51.07 a barrel after jumping $1.23 to $51.17 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after rising $1.50 to $1,571.60 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are climbing $5.80 to $1,577.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.74 yen compared to the 110.09 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0856 compared to yesterday's $1.0874.

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