Futures Pointing to Initial Strength on Wall Street

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By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Thursday, with stocks likely to see further upside following the rebound seen over the course of the previous session.

The markets may benefit from easing concerns about a potential trade war between the U.S. and China, which have recently led to considerable volatility on Wall Street.

The U.S. and China have recently engaged in tit-for-tat tariff announcements, although traders seem optimistic that the threats are only a precursor to negotiations of a trade agreement between the two countries.

Nonetheless, overall trading activity may be somewhat subdued as traders look ahead to the release of the Labor Department?s more closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Employment is expected to increase by 198,000 jobs in March after spiking by 313,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 4.0 percent from 4.1 percent.

Stocks showed a substantial turnaround over the course of the trading session on Wednesday after moving sharply lower at the open. The major averages climbed well off their lows of the session and firmly into positive territory.

The major averages pulled back off their best levels going into the close but still ended the day sharply higher. The Dow jumped 230.94 points or 1 percent to 24,264.30, the Nasdaq soared 100.83 points or 1.5 percent to 7,042.11 and the S&P 500 surged up 30.24 points or 1.2 percent to 2,644.69.

The rebound on Wall Street came as traders shrugged off trade war concerns that initially weighed on the markets following news China issued a list of 106 U.S. products that will be subject to additional tariffs.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports, including aircraft, cars, and soybeans.

The announcement by China came shortly after the U.S. Trade Representative published a proposed list of products imported from China that could be subject to additional tariffs.

The publication of the list came after President Donald Trump announced last month that he planned to impose about $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods over intellectual-property violations.

The USTR said the sectors subject to the proposed tariffs include industries such as aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics, and machinery.

While critics have complained the administration’s policies risk starting a trade war, Trump argued in a post on Twitter that the war had already been lost.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump tweeted.

He added, “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

On the U.S. economic front, payroll processor ADP released a report showing stronger than expected private sector job growth in the month of March.

ADP said employment surged up by 241,000 jobs in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 246,000 jobs in February. Economists had expected an increase of about 205,000 jobs.

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed a modest slowdown in the pace of growth in the service sector in the month of March.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index dipped to 58.8 in March from 59.5 in February, although a reading above 50 still indicates growth in the service sector. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 59.0.

Housing stocks showed a substantial move to the upside over the course of the session, driving the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index up by 3.4 percent.

Lennar (LEN) led the housing sector higher after the homebuilder reported first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Significant strength also emerged among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The index climbed further off the nearly three-month closing low set on Monday.

Tobacco, telecom, retail and healthcare stocks also moved notably higher as the day progressed, contributing to the turnaround by the broader markets.

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