By Peter Nurse
Investing .com - U.S. stock markets are set to open largely unchanged Thursday, as traders react with understandable caution as the operation to curtail the spreading of the new pneumonia-like virus in China ramps up.
At 7:15 AM ET (1215 GMT), futures for the S&P 500 traded 1 point, or 0.1%, lower, Nasdaq 100 Futures 10 points, or 0.1%, higher, while the DJIfutures contract fell 30 points, or 0.1%.
Earlier Thursday, China authorities issued a travel suspension in Wuhan, a city of 11 million at the center of the outbreak of the coronavirus. Later, they announced the stopping trains and buses leaving neighbouring Huanggang, a city of 7.5 million people, and the closure of many areas where people could congregate.
These were the latest attempts to stop the spread of the disease that has killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds of people in China, and as far afield as the U.S., Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
That said, volumes and volatility could be limited with many in the market keeping an eye on the second day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
In corporate news, several heavyweights are set to release numbers Thursday as the earnings season picks up.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) released its second-quarter results ahead of the opening bell, and the company’s shares are over 2% lower premarket as its sales missed forecasts. Shares in Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) climb over 2% premarket after the release of its fourth-quarter earnings, to all-time highs, with eyes particularly on news about its Peacock service. Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) will also be in the spotlight after the chip maker reported disappointing quarterly earnings after hours Wednesday.
Meanwhile, after the market close, chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) will deliver quarterly results, but many will be looking at its guidance for any read-across for the rest of the chip sector.
Elsewhere, oil prices tumbled to their lowest in seven weeks after the release of another increase in U.S. crude stocks Wednesday. The American Petroleum Institute figures showed a 1.6 million barrel increase in supply, which may or may not be corroborated by official government data due at 10:30 AM ET (1530 GMT).
AT 07:15 AM ET (1215 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 1.6% at $55.84 and the international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.3% to $62.36. Gold futures for February delivery on New York’s COMEX dropped 0.2% to $1,554.15.
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