By C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open lower on Thursday at the end of a strong month for stock markets globally as a grim U.S. jobless claims report overshadowed upbeat results from Facebook and Tesla.
The Labor Department’s report showed initial unemployment claims totaled 3.84 million for the week ended April 25, down from 4.44 million in the previous week and a record 6.87 million in March.
Although the downward trend raised hopes that the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the labor market had peaked, analysts said investors were still wary of the pace of an economic recovery from a looming recession.
“In large part this data is seen as something we’ve already taken for granted,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“We know that the economic data, especially as it pertains to labor, is bad and is going to get worse.”
Still, the S&P 500 <.SPX> is on course for its best month since 1974, powered by dramatic U.S. monetary and fiscal stimulus and hopes of a revival in business activity as states reopen from lockdowns.
All three U.S. stock indexes ended Wednesday’s session closer to all-time highs reached in February after positive partial data from a trial of Gilead Science Inc’s <GILD.O> antiviral remdesivir showed an improved recovery rate in COVID-19 patients.
The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to expand emergency programs to revive growth but dashed hopes for a fast rebound, saying the economy could feel the weight of consumer fear and social distancing for a year.
At 9:58 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 254 points, or 1.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 29.75 points, or 1.01% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 31.75 points, or 0.35%.
Analysts forecast a sharper decline in second-quarter corporate earnings, with profits for S&P 500 companies expected to fall 36% following a 15% anticipated drop in the first quarter, according to Refinitiv data.
Facebook Inc <FB.O> jumped 7.1% in premarket trading after beating analysts’ estimates for first-quarter revenue and saying it had seen “signs of stability” for ad sales in April after a plunge in March.
Electric car maker Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> climbed 7.3% after posting its third straight quarterly profit, taking investors by surprise as its automaker peers were hit by a slump in consumer demand and factory shutdowns.
But Twitter <TWTR.N> fell 6.3% even as it said ads sales had slightly rebounded in Asia after a plunge due to the coronavirus outbreak and that it had accelerated work on tools to attract key advertisers.
McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N> shed 1.6% after it reported a 16.7% slide in quarterly profit as most of its restaurants across the globe limited their services to deliveries and take-aways.
American Airlines <AAL.O> fell 6.8% as the airline operator posted its first quarterly loss since emerging from bankruptcy in 2013 and warned of a $70 million a day cash burn.
The two remaining FAANG stocks – Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Amazon.com <AMZN.O> – will report results after markets close.
(Reporting by C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)