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U.S. Stocks May Open Higher Following Upbeat Jobless Claims Data

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Following the release of upbeat jobless claims data, stocks may move to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 21 points.

The futures edged higher following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits declined by much more than anticipated in the week ended August 8th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims tumbled to 963,000, a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week's revised level of 1.191 million.

Economists had expected jobless claims to slide to 1.120 million from the 1.186 million originally reported for the previous week.

With the much bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims dropped below 1 million for the first time since the week ended March 14th.

Stocks may subsequently extend the rally seen in the previous session, although buying interest may be somewhat subdued.

Democrats and White House officials remain at an impasse over a coronavirus relief bill, raising concerns the economic recovery implied by the jobless claims data could stall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on Wednesday, but both sides came out of the conversation blaming the other for a lack of progress.

President Donald Trump, who has taken unprecedented action to circumvent Congress due to the impasse, claimed "the bill's not going to happen" during a press briefing.

Meanwhile, a separate report released by the Labor Department showed import and export prices in the U.S. both increased by more than expected in the month of July.

Following the sharp pullback seen late in the session on Tuesday, stocks showed a strong move back to the upside during trading on Wednesday. The major averages more than offset Tuesday's losses, with the S&P 500 climbing back within striking distance of its record highs.

The major averages pulled back off their best levels going into the close but remained firmly positive. The Dow jumped 289.93 points or 1.1 percent to 27,976.84, the Nasdaq soared 229.42 points or 2.1 percent to 11,012.24 and the S&P 500 surged up 46.66 points or 1.4 percent to 3,380.35.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.8 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slid by 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has slumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are inching up $0.05 to $47.72 a barrel after jumping $1.06 to $42.67 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after rising $2.70 to $1,949 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slumping $11.50 to $1,937.50 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.95 yen versus the 106.91 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1838 compared to yesterday's $1.1784.

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