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Stock futures drifted flat to slightly lower Thursday morning after a jump in equities a day earlier. 

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Contracts on the S&P 500 dipped by 0.1% as the overnight session began, after the index closed higher by 0.9% earlier, bringing it within 0.3% of its recent record closing high. The Dow and Nasdaq also ticked lower after a surge on Wednesday, with the latter rising more than 1%.

Stocks churned in recent sessions as investors digested a bevy of corporate earnings results and awaited additional reports, more economic data and more commentary from Federal Reserve officials in the coming weeks. 

Corporate earnings have so far exceeded Wall Street’s even lofty expectations, as companies benefited from both a pick-up in revenue as demand recovered, and as cost-cutting measures implemented during the pandemic boosted their bottom lines. Chipotle (CMG) shares edged higher in early trading after the restaurant company posted first-quarter earnings that blew away expectations late Wednesday, with digital sales more than doubling. 

With stocks hovering near all-time highs and the early stages of the post-pandemic recovery already under way, any additional moves higher will likely come with some difficulty, some analysts said. 

“What we have is the absence of a catalyst. Everything that we’ve done over the last twelve months has been to build up to this point, to get this recovery, to get a very, very strong second-quarter GDP, which we think could be upwards of 10%,” Jim Caron, Morgan Stanley investment management fixed income portfolio manager, told Yahoo Finance. “But after that, things start to slow down. It doesn’t mean that the data gets bad, it just means on a relative basis that the third quarter will be weaker will the second quarter and the fourth quarter may be weaker than the third quarter.” 

Looking forward, the contours of additional government spending and monetary policy support will likely serve as key drivers, Caron added. 

“We have an infrastructure spending plan that’s also coming out … And once we have that, we’ve already spent $5.8 trillion, we’re going to spend some more, we’re going to have a very large deficit, so then what comes next? The next 12 months of fiscal spending is probably going to be less than the last 12 months,” Caron added. “So that seems like a net tightening. And then we have Fed tapering to throw into the whole thing as well. So the market’s realizing that it has some hard work to do.”

Others offered a similar view.

“I do think that returns for equities are certainly going to be more subdued. I mean, we did have a very strong recovery from the bottom that we’ve seen. But now we are bumping up against price targets. We’re probably about 5% away from our year-end price target,” Anastasia Amoroso, JPMorgan Private Bank head of cross asset thematic strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “It’s possible that as long as the earnings revisions come through and they’re higher, we’ll revise that. But I think there’s going to be not as big of a beta rally going forward. There’s going to be more discerning investments needed in the markets.”

8:34 a.m. ET: New jobless claims unexpectedly sink to a new pandemic-era low 

New jobless claims sank further to a new pandemic-era low during the week ended April 17, as the labor market made additional strides in recovering. 

New jobless claims totaled 547,000 last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday. This came in below the 610,000 expected and the upwardly revised 586,000 from the prior week.

Continuing jobless claims also declined, but came in slightly higher than anticipated. Continuing claims totaled 3.674 million for the week ended April 3 versus the 3.650 million expected.

7:00 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point to a slightly lower open 

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell Thursday morning: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,161.75, down 3.00 points or 0.07%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 34,014.00, down 2 points or 0.01%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,907.5, down 11.75 points or 0.08%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.45 (-0.73%) to $60.90 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$5.60 (-0.31%) to $1,787.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.7 bps to yield 1.557%

6:02 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures edge lower 

Here’s where markets were trading as the overnight session began.

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,158.00, down 6.75 points or 0.16%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 33,984.00, down 32 points or 0.09%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,897.00, down 22.25 points or 0.16%

© Provided by Yahoo! Finance NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A view of the New York Stock Exchange entrance on May 28, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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