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02 Apr 2020 | 11:55

US open: Futures point to early gains as oil prices bounce back

(Sharecast News) - US futures were pointing to early gains on Thursday as oil prices rebounded and investors awaited the release of an all-important jobless claims report later in the day. As of 1240 BST, Dow futures were up 1.67%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures had the indices opening 1.56% and 1.20% firmer, respectively.

The Dow closed 973.65 points lower on Wednesday, continuing on from the losses recorded at the end of the worst first quarter in the history of the blue-chip index.

Sentiment was boosted ahead of the bell as West Texas intermediate crude shot up 9.55% to $22.25 a barrel after Donald Trump said he now expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to reach a deal in their price war. Brent crude was up 10.63% at $27.37 per barrel.

Energy stocks were up in pre-market trading, with the likes of Exxon Mobil and Chevron both up more than 6%.

However, Oanda's Craig Erlam said: "Oil prices are bouncing back strongly today, up around 10%, after Donald Trump suggested a deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to end the price war may be days away.

"I tend to take these things with a pinch of salt, how many times has the President said something that's conveniently moved markets in his desired direction? Perhaps I'm mistaken but we've not heard many noises from Saudi Arabia or Russia that indicate a deal is days away."

Global cases of Covid-19 are now around 942,000, while the death toll in the US has topped 5,000, according to Johns Hopkins.

On the macro front, data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas' revealed that job cuts had surged 267% year-on-year to 222,288 in March, as the Covid-19 outbreak claimed a total of 141,844 jobs across the US.

"The virus has caused total whiplash for HR, hiring managers, and recruiters. The labour data for February showed a strong economy with a tight labour market. Companies were fighting for talent across industries. Now, millions of workers have filed for unemployment, companies have frozen hiring, and in many cases, cut operations or closed completely," said Andrew Challenger.

Still to come, initial jobless claims for the week ending 28 March will be out at 1330 BST, with economists expecting to see another four to five million Americans filing for unemployment as the pandemic-related shutdowns tear through the country.

Durable goods and factory orders figures for February will follow at 1500 BST.

No major corporate earnings were scheduled for release on Thursday.
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