The figures from the Department of Labor show new weekly jobless claims unexpectedly dropped to a new low since the start of the pandemic. They reached 547,000 for the week ended April 17, vs. 610,000 expected.
Two events of international importance will also be on investors' radar. Let's start with the Earth Summit organized remotely by Joe Biden. It is expected to see the world's major leaders -from the world's major polluting nations - agree on the need to accelerate the "green" agenda. Most importantly, it is expected that the United States will also set a target for CO2 emissions. If the prevailing rumor is accurate, Washington could set the bar at a 50% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Xi Jinping's participation in the debates will add some spice to the meeting, although experts believe that the Chinese president will not change one iota the position he expressed recently, which is that he is in favor of green initiatives but that they should not be selectively punitive. This means that he does not like the carbon tax set by the EU.
The second event is the meeting of the European Central Bank, which kept its monetary policy unchanged today. An envelope of 1,850 billion euros allocated to securities purchases under the "emergency pandemic purchase program" (EPPP) stays intact. The refinancing rate remains at zero and the deposit facility rate at -0.5%.
No spectacular announcement was expected at the end of the meeting of the Governing Council of the institution, which had decided last month to increase the pace of its bond purchases to prevent a rise in financing costs in the euro area.
At the previous meeting in early March, the stakes were quite different, as it was necessary to reassure on several fronts, which was done despite a certain cacophony in the comments of central bankers, who were decidedly dissipated. Economists seem to think that the June meeting will be much livelier, as some economies will (probably) have reopened and the question of how to manage the PEPP, the asset purchase plan, will (probably) arise once activity is back on track.
Investors continue to follow the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, which is regaining strength in some parts of the world. The case of India is particularly worrying with more than 310,000 new cases in one day yesterday, which represents a world record for all countries combined since the beginning of the pandemic.
Economic highlights of the day
Along with the ECB update and the new weekly jobless claims, we have the Chicago Fed activity index for March, March housing figures and the index of leading indicators.
The euro/dollar pair is trading at EUR 0.8286. The gold ounce is down to USD 1783. Oil is up after yesterday's decline, at 65.52 USD a barrel of Brent and USD 61.49 a barrel of WTI. The US 10-year government bond is posting a yield down to 1.53%. Bitcoin is at USD 55,030.
* AT&T on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and twice as many new mobile subscribers as consensus expected, as the recovery in the U.S. economy boosted smartphone sales and its media business. The stock is up 1.5% in pre-market trading.
* American Airlines gained 2.5% in premarket trading after reporting a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss and lower cash burn as rising vaccination rates prompted more people to opt for air travel.
* Southwest Airlines reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and expects to reduce cash burn in the second quarter as demand picks up in the summer. The airline is up 1.5% in pre-market trading.
* Biogen gained 1.5% in premarket trading after reporting quarterly earnings and sales above the Refinitiv consensus and raising its adjusted earnings guidance for 2021.
* Chipotle Mexican Grill said Wednesday that as customers return, its sales for the current quarter could grow 30% after posting better-than-expected first-quarter profit and revenue in line with expectations.
* Dow reported a 69% jump in first-quarter profit Thursday as selling prices for some products rose due to increased demand and tighter supply.
* Whirlpool was up 8% in after-hours trading Wednesday after it reported better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its annual guidance.
* The U.S. court ruled in favor of Intel in a patent infringement lawsuit brought against it by VLSI Technology, which was seeking more than $3 billion in damages. Intel is also scheduled to release its quarterly results after the close.
* Pfizer announced Thursday it is in discussions with India to distribute its Covid-19 vaccine there.