Stock futures rise to begin the second quarter

FAN Editor

U.S. equity futures are trading higher following a winning first quarter.

The major futures indexes suggest a gain of 0.6% for the Nasdaq which ended the quarter strong.

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The Dow and S&P traded more cautiously.

For the quarter, the Dow finished up 7.8%, while the S&P 500 gained 5.8% and the Nasdaq added 2.8%.

The new quarter kicks off with a slew of economic data.

The Labor Department is out with its count of new claims for unemployment benefits for last week. Expectations are for 680,000, down slightly from 684,000 the prior week which marked the lowest since the coronavirus pandemic started.

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A key number to watch will be the ISM’s manufacturing purchasing managers index for March. It’s expected to edge higher by half a point to 61.3, which would be the highest since May 2004 and mark the 10th straight month of expansion. A number above 50 signals an expanding manufacturing sector.

Construction spending is expected to contract 1% in February after a 1.7% rise the previous month.

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Thursday after Japan and South Korea reported unexpectedly strong economic data and President Biden announced a $2.3 trillion U.S. infrastructure spending plan.

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Japan’s Tankan index of business conditions for large manufacturers rose into positive territory for the first time since 2019.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 0.7%,the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1.5% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7%.

Investors are swinging between optimism that coronavirus vaccines will allow business to return to normal and unease about rising infections in the United States and some European countries. That has prompted some to reimpose travel curbs.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 32981.55 -85.41 -0.26%
SP500 S&P 500 3972.89 +14.34 +0.36%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13246.870661 +201.48 +1.54%

On the final trading day of the quarter, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.4% to 3,972.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3% to 32,981.55. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.5%, to 13,246.87.

The 10-year Treasury yield inched up to 1.74%.

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In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 59 cents to $59.78 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.39 on Wednesday to $59.16. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, added 57 cents to $63.31 per barrel in London. It lost 60 cents the previous session to $63.54.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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