U.S. stocks on Thursday looked set to struggle to extend gains for a fourth session in a row, as investors digest weaker-than-expected data in China, a grounding of key Boeing jet and a Brexit saga playing out in the U.K.
How are major indexes performing?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 24 points, or 0.1% to 25,711, those for the S&P 500 fell 3.50 points, also 0.1%, at 2,810.75, while Nasdaq-100 futures retreated 1.75 points to 7,266, a fall of less than 0.1%.
On Wednesday, the Dow DJIA, +0.58% climbed 148.23 points, or 0.6%, to 25,702.89. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.69% added 19.40 points, or 0.7%, to end at 2,810.92, its highest close since Nov. 7. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.69% advanced 52.37 points, or 0.7%, at 7,643.41.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are attempting to rise for a fourth straight day, while the Dow is aiming for back-to-back wins.
What’s driving markets?
Industrial output from China on Thursday provided fresh signs that the world’s second-largest economy continued to slow, with the economy expanding at its slowest rate in about 30 years, heightening anxieties about sluggish global growth.
Bloomberg reported Thursday morning that a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be delayed until at least April, news that appeared to weigh on stock index futures.
The news comes after President Trump told reporters in the White House Wednesday that he was in no rush to strike a trade agreement with China, and said there remained the possibility that he could walk away, even as he expressed optimism about progress in talks.
Meanwhile, a report from Bloomberg said that a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be delayed until at least April.
Meanwhile, across the pond, U.K. lawmakers a day ago ruled out a no-deal exit from the European Union, as expected, but now lawmakers must vote in favor of a further proposal to request an extension, or delay of so-called Article 50, Britain’s scheduled exit from the European Union date beyond March 29. That would require the unanimous approval of the other 27 EU governments.
Thursday’s vote comes after May lost a vote to push forward her revised Brexit plan by a 149-vote margin. However, she could bring forth the same deal to Parliament next week, political experts say.
Market participants have closely watched Brexit negotiations because the threat of a disorderly exit from the EU by Britain could roil global markets here and abroad.
Meanwhile, Boeing Co. shares were edging slightly higher in Thursday premarket after President Donald Trump told reporters that U.S. regulators will ground 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft in line with similar decisions in other countries. However, industry experts said that although Boeing’s reputation will suffer, the latest incidents aren’t likely to have a lasting impact on the company.
What data are ahead?
A report on weekly jobless claims is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, as is a reading of import prices for February, and a key reading of retail sales for February, which had been delayed due to the earlier partial government shutdown.
A report on new home sales is scheduled for 10 a.m., while business inventories data are due at the same time.
Which stocks are in focus?
Boeing’s stock BA, +0.46% was flat in premarket action Thursday, but has lost nearly 11% so far this week.
Facebook Inc. shares FB, +0.84% were off 2.3% before the bell, after the New York Times reported that a grand jury under the supervision of prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York is undertaking a criminal investigation into the social-media platform’s data-sharing practices.
Southwest Airlines Co. LUV, +0.42% also were in focus because a chunk of the air carrier’s fleet is Boeing 737 MAX jets. Shares of the company weren’t trading in premarket, however.
General Electric Co. GE, +2.66% is set to hold an update of its turnaround plans. Shares of the industrial conglomerate were edging lower by 0.6%.
What are strategists saying?
“I’m always worried, but despite the moves in parliament I don’t expect the election risk to rise unless the Prime Minister were to step down. For that to realistically happen you would need to see article 50 extended by a good amount, [Theresa May] to resign, then a new leader, then an election at some point in time,” wrote Jordan Rochester, a strategist at Nomura International, in a Thursday research note.
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