U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Thursday as investor sentiment turned positive after the Bank of Japan announced aggressive monetary easing measures to stimulate growth in the world's third largest economy.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.35 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.31 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.27 percent.
Ahead of Friday's March nonfarm payrolls report, the Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 350,000 for the week ending March 30, down from 357,000 in the previous week.
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced expected aggressive monetary easing measures in its first policy meeting under newly appointed chief Haruhiko Kuroda. The central bank said that it would bring "quantitative and qualitative monetary easing" policies to achieve its 2 percent inflation target, which could include boosting government bond purchases, including longer-term debt.
“Today’s decision clearly heralds a regime change at the BOJ. Kuroda has embarked on an experiment of whether boosting the monetary base can prop up economic growth and eradicate deflation,” Hiroaki Muto, a senior economist in Tokyo at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset & Management, told Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, market participants await monetary policy decisions from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE), which will hold their policy meetings early Thursday. The BOE is expected to leave its key rates unchanged at 0.5 percent and asset purchases at 375 billion pounds.
“Now the focus will be on the ECB meeting, in a very different context. While it may be too early for the ECB to ease its monetary policy, with the BOJ announcement unlikely to force the ECB’s hand, markets will nonetheless listen to President Draghi for any hint at more actions to come,” a note from Credit Agricole said.
U.S. stock markets plunged Wednesday as weak economic data sparked concerns on the economic recovery in the world’s largest economy. Economic reports on from ADP on employment and services both came in below expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.76 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 1.05 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 1.11 percent.
Payroll firm ADP Employer Services said the U.S. private sector added fewer jobs than expected in March and the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing index showed slower service sector growth. The ADP data came two days before the government's monthly nonfarm payroll report and raised concerns that March's employment report would be weaker than the initial consensus indicated.
European stock markets were trading mixed with Germany's DAX30 up 0.28 percent, France's CAC 40 gaining 0.58 percent and London's FTSE 100 declining 0.55 percent.
Asian stock markets mostly ended lower Thursday as weak U.S. economic data weighed on the investor sentiment. However, the Japanese Nikkei pared earlier losses and climbed more than 2 percent as the yen declined against the U.S. dollar and the Euro after the BOJ unveiled strong monetary easing measures. Japan’s Nikkei surged 2.20 percent or 272.34 points to 12,634.54.