Futures Pointing To Roughly Flat Open On Wall Street

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After moving sharply higher over the course of the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures down by just 0.1 percent.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves in early trading as they digest a slew of earnings news and U.S. economic data.

Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup (C) are moving higher in pre-market trading after the financial giants all reported better than expected quarterly earnings.

Social media giant Twitter (TWTR) is also likely to see initial strength after Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said he offered to take the company profit for $54.20 per share in cash or approximately $43 billion.

On the other hand, shares of Wells Fargo (WFC) are seeing pre-market weakness after the bank reported first quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates but weaker than expected revenues.

Traders are also reacting to some key U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing U.S. retail sales increased in March amid a spike in sales by gas stations.

The report showed retail sales rose by 0.5 percent in March after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.8 percent in February.

Economists had expected retail sales to increase by 0.6 percent compared to the 0.3 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a pullback in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales jumped by 1.1 percent in March after rising by 0.6 percent in February. Ex-auto sales were expected to increase by 1.0 percent.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits increased by more than expected in the week ended April 9th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose to 185,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level of 167,000.

Economists had expected initial jobless claims to edge up to 171,000 from the 166,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department also released a report showing U.S. import prices surged by more than expected in the month of March, as prices for fuel imports continued to skyrocket.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its preliminary report on consumer sentiment in the month of April. The consumer sentiment index is expected to edge down to 59.0 in April from 59.4 in March.

The Commerce Department is also due to release its report on business inventories in the month of February. Business inventories are expected to jump by 1.3 percent.

Stocks initially showed a lack of direction but moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Wednesday. With the rally on the day, the major averages partly offset the downward move seen to start the week.

The major averages pulled back off their highs of the session going into the close but held on to strong gains. The Dow jumped 344.23 points or 1 percent to 34,564.59, the Nasdaq surged 272.02 points or 2 percent to 13,643.59 and the S&P 500 shot up 49.14 points or 1.1 percent to 4,446.59.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index and China's Shanghai Composite Index both jumped by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has advanced by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $1.49 to $102.76 a barrel after surging $3.65 to $104.25 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after climbing $8.60 to $1,984.70 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are falling $9.80 to $1,974.90 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 125.54 yen versus the 125.62 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0867 compared to yesterday's $1.0888.

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