U.S. stock index futures point to a flat open Thursday ahead of the publication of Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report and the Department of Labor's weekly jobless claims data.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.06 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.07 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.05 percent.
The Commerce Department will release the final estimate of the fourth quarter GDP, which measures the annualized change in the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced by the economy, before the opening bell Thursday. Fourth quarter real GDP growth is expected to be revised higher to 0.7 percent annually from 0.1 percent growth in the second estimate reported last month. The world’s largest economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter.
Investors are also expected to focus on weekly U.S. jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, to be reported at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 340,000 for the week ending March 23, up from 336,000 in the previous week.
In addition, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for March will be released after the opening bell. Economists expect a reading of 56.5 in March, slightly lower compared to February’s 56.8.
“Market showed some caution Wednesday as the Italian political stalemate moved back into limelight. Europe will again be in focus today as Cypriot banks are set to reopen with strict capital control measures in place, though a significant upward revision to the U.S. fourth quarter GDP could lend some support to market sentiment,” a note from Credit Agricole said.
U.S. stock markets ended mixed Wednesday as investor sentiment was weighed down by concerns over euro zone debt crisis and after a report showed that Pending Home Sales declined 0.4 percent to 104.8 in February after surging to a two-and-a-half years high in the prior month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.23 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.06 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.12 percent.
European stock markets were trading higher with Germany's DAX30 up 0.25 percent, France's CAC-40 gaining 0.36 percent and London's FTSE 100 advancing 0.19 percent.
Asian stock markets declined Thursday as the Italian political stalemate moved back into limelight and investors await Cypriot banks to reopen after being shut for ten business days. Japan’s Nikkei plunged 1.26 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.74 percent, while Chinese Shanghai slumped 2.82 percent and India’s BSE Sensex declined 0.14 percent.
Economic concerns over Italy rebounded as hopes of a stable government formation faded after Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani's attempts to strike an alliance failed and it is unlikely a deal will be reached before Bersani reports to the president. Renewed fears pushed the country's five-year bond yields to a multi-month high on weak demand at an auction held yesterday and weighed on the euro.