U.S. Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open on Thursday, with stocks likely to show a lack of direction following recent volatility.

The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures down by 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq 100 futures up by 0.1 percent.

Uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets may keep some traders sidelines following the wild swings seen in recent days.

Turmoil in the financial sector may also continue to weigh on investors' minds as traders look ahead to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting next week.

Some traders have recently expressed optimism the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

CME Group's FedWatch Tool is currently indicating a 28.4 percent chance the Fed will leave rates unchanged and a 71.6 percent chance of a 25 basis point rate hike.

U.S. stocks came off the session's lows on Wednesday but still ended on a weak note, with bank stocks feeling the brunt of selling pressure.

The major averages all recovered well from the day's lows, although only the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to close with a small gain.

The Dow ended down 280.83 points or 0.9 percent at 31,874.57, nearly 450 points off the session's low of 31,429.82. The S&P 500, which fell to 3,838.24, ended at 3,891.93, losing 27.36 points or 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq, which tumbled to 11,238.44, settled at 11,434.05, gaining 5.90 points or 0.1 percent.

In addition to ongoing concerns about turmoil in the financial sector following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the short-term debt woes of Swiss lender Credit Suisse contributed to the bearish sentiment in the market.

Credit Suisse shares fell nearly 25 percent in the Swiss market after Saudi National Bank, the bank's largest investor, reportedly said it would not provide any more funding to the Swiss lender.

The market also digested the latest batch of economic data. Commerce Department data showed retail sales in U.S. fell by 0.4 percent in February after spiking by an upwardly revised 3.2 percent in January. Economists had expected retail sales to decrease by 0.3 percent compared to the 3 percent surge originally reported for the previous month.

Producer prices in the U.S. unexpectedly edged slightly lower in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand slipped by 0.1 percent in February after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3 percent in January. Economists had expected producer prices to increase by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.7 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.

JP Morgan Chase fell nearly 5 percent. Chevron, Boeing, Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, Travelers Companies and Honeywell International ended lower by 3 to 4.6 percent.

American Express drifted down more than 2.5 percent. Visa and IBM also ended notably lower.

Microsoft surged about 2 percent. Amgen, Walmart, P&G, Intel and Walgreens Boots Alliance also closed higher.

Alphabet gained about 2.3 percent, recovering well after an early setback. Facebook gained nearly 2 percent, and Amazon climbed 1.4 percent. Apple ended modestly higher.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are slipping $0.14 to $67.47 a barrel after plunging $3.72 to $67.61 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after jumping $20.40 to $1931.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging down $0.20 to $1,931.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 132.44 yen versus the 133.42 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0590 compared to yesterday's $1.0577.


Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Thursday as concerns grew about the health of the global banking system. Investor attention also moved to central bank meetings and regulatory action to shore up confidence and avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

Chinese shares fell sharply after reports that China's securities regulator is holding up approvals for new applications to sell global depository receipts.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumped 1.1 percent to 3,226.89, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index settled 1.7 percent lower at 19,203.91, dragged down by oil stocks.

China's home prices rose for the first time in a year and a half in February due to favorable government policy, official data showed earlier in the day.

Japanese shares fell again after snapping a three-day losing run in the previous session. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.8 percent to 27,010.61 despite positive core machinery orders and trade balance data.

The broader Topix closed 1.2 percent lower at 1,937.10 on fears the U.S. banking turmoil may widen and spread globally. Tech stocks bucked the weak trend, with Advantest and Tokyo Electron rising around 1 percent each.

Seoul stocks recovered from an early slide to end on a flat note. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics edged up slightly after unveiling plans to invest around 300 trillion won ($230 billion) by 2042.

Australian markets declined as falling commodity prices amid fresh troubles at Swiss lender Credit Suisse pulled down mining and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index shed 1.5 percent to finish at 69,65.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index settled 1.5 percent lower at 7,152.70.

Woodside Energy Group and Worley both fell over 5 percent after oil prices plunged by nearly 5 percent overnight on recession fears.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto lost 4-5 percent. IP law business IPH plunged 10.6 percent after it was hit by a cyberattack.

Australian employment rebounded strongly in February, while the jobless rate fell back to near 50-year lows, data showed earlier in the session.


European stocks have moved notably higher on Thursday as traders assess moves from regulators to support Credit Suisse.

While the French CAC 40 Index has jumped by 1.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.7 percent.

Credit Suisse shares have soared. The Swiss lender, which is at the center of Europe's banking rout, said it would borrow up to $54 billion from the Swiss central bank to shore up liquidity and investor confidence.

Peers Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking and Barclays have also shown notable moves to the upside.

British gold mining Centamin has also moved higher after reporting an increase in FY22 pre-tax profit on higher revenue.

Investec has also rallied after the niche bank and wealth manager said it expects a jump operating profit for the year to the end of March 2023.

German energy firm Siemens Energy has also advanced after announcing a capital increase.

Meanwhile, United Utilities has fallen. The water company confirmed that its Chief Executive Officer, Steve Mogford, is retiring effective March 31.

U.S. Economic Reports

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits pulled back by more than expected in the week ended March 11th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 192,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level of 212,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to slip to 205,000 from the 211,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 196,500, a decrease of 750 from the previous week's revised average of 197,250.

A separate report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed import prices edged slightly lower in the month of February.

The Labor Department said import prices dipped by 0.1 percent in February after falling by a revised 0.4 percent in January.

Economists had expected import prices to slip by 0.2 percent, matching the decrease originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices rose by 0.2 percent in February after climbing by a revised 0.5 percent in January.

Export prices were expected to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.8 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.

After reporting decreases in new U.S. residential construction for six straight months, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing a substantial rebound in housing starts in the month of February.

The Commerce Department said housing starts spiked by 9.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.450 million in February after slumping by 2.0 percent to a revised rate of 1.321 million in January.

Economists had expected housing starts to rise to an annual rate of 1.315 million from the 1.309 million originally reported for the previous month.

The report said building permits also skyrocketed by 13.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.524 million in February after inching up by 0.1 percent to an unrevised rate of 1.339 million in January.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to edge up to an annual rate of 1.340 million.

At 11 am ET, the Treasury Department is scheduled to announce the details of this month's twenty-year bond auction.

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