US Futures Slump, Oil Jumps, as Saudi Arabia Strikes Yemen

U.S. stock futures were sharply lower Thursday, while oil prices surged, as Saudi Arabia’s air strikes on Yemen caused jitters in markets.

Both West Texas Intermediate rose 4.5% to $ 51.43 recently and Brent crude oil for delivery in May was up 4.4% at $ 58.98.

Economic data on tap Thursday include jobless claims for the week ended March 21, out at 8:30 a.m. E.T, expected to increase to 293,000 from 291,000 the preceding week. The consensus range is between 282,000 and 300,000, according to data compiled by Econoday.

At 9:45 a.m., the Markit Purchasing Manufacturing Index services flash index is expected to have remained unchanged at 57.00. The consensus range is between 56.2 and 57.3.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard was in Frankfurt, Germany, and said it would be a good time to “normalize” U.S. monetary policy. His colleague from the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, Dennis Lockhart, will discuss monetary policy and economic outlook in Detroit at 9:00 a.m.

In equities, SanDisk ( SNDK ) shares fell 12% in recent pre-market trade after lowering its Q1 sales guidance amid production qualification delays, weaker sales of enterprise products and lower pricing. The maker of data storage solutions said the impact of these factors would continue through 2015.

Consulting, technology and outsourcing services company Accenture ( ACN ) meanwhile rose 3.2% as its fiscal Q2 topped expectations, and even as it cut the top end of its FY15 guidance range.

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