By Peter Nurse
Investing.com — U.S. stocks are seen opening lower Thursday, as investors monitor developments on the Ukraine border as well as the Federal Reserve minutes ahead of the release of weekly jobless claims and more corporate earnings.
The fraught situation in Eastern Europe continues to weigh on market sentiment, with the optimism of earlier in the week – when Russia claimed it was returning some troops to barracks – having largely dissipated.
Western countries, and NATO, dispute that there has been a significant withdrawal, although Russia’s Defense Ministry said that troops recently drilling in Crimea would return to their bases hundreds of miles away in the North Caucasus. The United States said thousands more troops were still arriving.
Tensions were ramped up Thursday after Russian-backed rebels claimed Ukrainian forces had shelled their positions in eastern Ukraine, a claim denied by Ukrainian officials. Such events have become reasonably commonplace over the eight years of the conflict, but fears are growing that it could be used as justification for Russia to invade. Ukrainian authorities posted pictures of a kindergarten hit by separatist artillery overnight.
Back in the U.S., investors will study more data on the labor market in the form of the weekly jobless claims, at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT). The number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time in the U.S. is seen falling for the fourth straight week to 219,000.
This follows the minutes of the January Federal Reserve meeting showing on Wednesday that policy makers were in favor of promptly hiking interest rates and reducing the central bank’s balance sheet.
Turning to the corporate sector, retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings during the session, and analysts will be listening for its outlook on supply chains and the labor market.
Additionally, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be in the spotlight after the online retail giant ended its dispute with Visa (NYSE:V) over card fees, meaning its customers will continue to be able to use the payment cards in the U.K. and that other surcharges imposed in Australia and Singapore, introduced last year, will be dropped.
DoorDash (NYSE:DASH) stock surged premarket after the food delivery company reported strong growth in its quarterly revenue as the demand generated in the pandemic showed no signs of slowing.
Oil prices weakened Thursday following comments by France suggesting an agreement to salvage Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was within reach, potentially releasing the Persian Gulf country’s crude output onto the global market.
This has tended to overshadow the increased tensions on the Ukraine border.
Dow Futures Down 175 Pts; Jobless Claims, Corporate Earnings in Focus
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