Stock futures rise as investors weigh jobless claims data

US stock futures pushed higher in pre-market trading Thursday as investors weighed minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting and fresh employment data out of Washington.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 rose 0.3%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 150 points, or roughly 0.5%. Contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.4%.

Initial jobless claims unexpectedly edged higher last week in a potential sign the labor market may be cooling amid tighter financial conditions. First-time filings for unemployment insurance in the US totaled 235,000 for the week ended July 2, increasing by 4,000 from the prior week’s reading of 231,000 claims, the Department of Labor said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the latest reading to come in at 230,000.

The print comes ahead of the government’s monthly employment report for June due out Friday.

Elsewhere in markets, Bed Bath & Beyond stock (BBBY) popped after news that the interim CEO bought stock and GameStop stock (GME) was up more than 6% ahead of the open after the video game retailer and meme-stock darling announced late Wednesday that its board approved a four-for-one stock split in the form of a dividend.

Tesla (TSLA), Amazon (AMZN), and Shopify (SHOP) also recently announced stock splits, which increase the number of a company’s shares to give more investors access for purchasing without changing the market capitalization.

Crude oil edged up but continued to hover just under $100 per barrel after falling below that threshold for the first time since mid-May on Tuesday. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield held at 2.9% following a slide from its recent decade high of over 3.4% in the middle of June.

Thursday’s gains in futures trading follow three straight up days for the S&P 500 index. In the previous session, the benchmark closed up 0.4% – along with slight increases for the Dow and Nasdaq – after a readout of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June 14-15 meeting affirmed the US central bank was committed to intervening as needed to rein in inflation.

“Participants concurred that the economic outlook warranted moving to a restrictive stance of policy, and they recognized the possibility that an even more restrictive stance could be appropriate if elevated inflation pressures were to persist,” meeting minutes stated.

Officials also discussed concerns over inflation becoming entrenched in the US economy and price stability becoming increasingly difficult to restore.

American Flags hang from the NYSE during Independence Day weekend on July 03, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

“Many participants judged that a significant risk now facing the Committee was that elevated inflation could become entrenched if the public began to question the resolve of the Committee to adjust the stance of policy as warranted,” the minutes stated.

At the same time, concerns remain that a further ramp in interest rates to tame inflation may push the economy into recession, particularly as key economic data including consumer sentiment and spending, along with recent purchasing managers’ indices, have shown signs of softening in the latest prints. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow model now estimates real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2022 at -2.1%, which would meet the unofficial threshold for a recession when matched with the 1.6% decline in Q1. The official read on second quarter GDP is due July 28.

The Federal Reserve is “nervous that they might raise rates too fast and start a recession,” University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business Economics Professor Austan Goolsbee told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday. “That’s the tough balancing act the Fed has got made tougher by the fact that this business cycle looks nothing like a normal business cycle.”

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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