US pre-open: Futures fall as investors digest Fed minutes

LONDON (ShareCast) – Dow Futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, as investors digested published details of the last US Federal Reserve meeting. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages is expected to open nine points down to 17,843.00 points, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are expected to begin the session approximately three and five points lower than Wednesday’s close.

On Wednesday, minutes of the Fed’s March meeting showed that several policymakers favoured a June hike for the Fed funds rate, whereas others argued for delaying an increase further and two members wanted to wait until 2016.

“The division among Fed members alone is enough to spook the markets into thinking an interest rate hike could happen sooner than anticipated,” said David Madden, market analyst at IG (LSE: IGG.L – news) .

The economic calendar sees a report on weekly jobless claims released at 13:30 GMT.

The report is expected to show that 285,000 Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week, increasing from the previous week reading of 268,000, which represented a 15-year low.

Meanwhile, at 15:00 GMT wholesale inventories for February will be released.

In company news, Alcoa (NYSE: AA – news) slid over 2% in pre-market trading after the aluminium maker, which kicked off the earnings season late on Wednesday, said revenue had missed forecasts and pointed to a challenging outlook.

Game services provider Zynga (NasdaqGS: ZNGA – news) slumped almost 9% before the bell after announcing late on Wednesday that its chief executive Don Mattrick had left the company with immediate effect.

Retailer Bed Bath & Beyond fell 3% in pre-market despite reporting fourth-quarter earnings that were in line with expectations late on Wednesday.

Asian stocks closed higher on Thursday, driven by a 2.7% jump in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index was on track to close at an all-time high.

Having tumbled over 6% on Wednesday in the wake of rising inventories, crude prices staged a steady rebound, with West Texas Intermediate gaining 2% to $ 51.47 a barrel, while Brent crude gained $ 2.6% to $ 57.01 a barrel.

The dollar advanced against the pound and the euro but fell marginally against the yen, while gold futures slid 0.30% to $ 1,199.50.

Dow Futures

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