U.S. stock futures were nearly flat in early morning trade Thursday as investors took a breather after the turbulence of the prior three regular sessions.
The overnight moves followed a bounce in U.S. equities during normal trading hours on Wednesday that helped pare the S&P 500’s 4.8% slide over Monday and Tuesday.
Violent fluctuations in the price of oil have kept markets on edge this week as a slide in demand the result of the coronavirus and persistent oversupply keep pressure on crude.
Though West Texas Intermediate crude is down more than 70% from highs north of $60 per barrel earlier this year, its bounce on Wednesday pacified investors who worried that the futures contracts could fall back into negative territory as they did on Monday.
The contract for June delivery settled up 19% at $13.78 per barrel on Wednesday after President Donald Trump tweeted that he’d “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
WTI contract for May delivery plunged below zero to trade in negative territory on the first day of the week for the first time ever. A day later, the more actively traded June contract fell 43.37% to settle at $11.57. Brent and WTI crude futures were last seen trading up 8% and 3.7%, respectively.
U.S. traders will on Thursday digest the Labor Department’s latest report on jobless claims.
Another 4.3 million workers are expected to have filed for benefits last week, which would bring the total number seeking benefits to over 26 million since states started shutting down in the second half of March in an effort to slow the virus.
The number of cumulative claims rose to 22.025 million over four weeks prior, erasing nearly all of the 22.442 million jobs recovered since the Great Recession.
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