Futures slip ahead of jobless data

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures slipped on Thursday as a rally fueled by optimism over an economic rebound from a coronavirus-led downturn ran out of steam, with investors awaiting a reading on weekly jobless claims.

U.S.-China tensions continued to simmer as Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passed a bill that would criminalize disrespect of China’s national anthem, a move seen as the latest sign of Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

Wall Street’s main indexes have rallied in the previous few sessions, with the Nasdaq inching closer to a record high on hopes of a rebound from the economic slump and a spate of data that has been less dire than feared.

The tech-heavy index .IXIC is now 1.4% away from overtaking its all-time closing high set in February.

A report from the Labor Department on Thursday will likely show the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped below 2 million last week for the first time since mid-March, reaffirming that the worst was over for the U.S. labor market.

Focus will then shift to the closely watched employment report for May, due Friday, which is expected to show unemployment rate rocketing to 19.8%, a post-World War Two record.

Meanwhile, nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed black man in police custody continued for more than week with thousands of demonstrators massed near the White House. Two New York policemen were shot and wounded, and one knifed, while on duty to stop looting in Brooklyn.

At 6:30 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 122 points, or 0.47%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 15 points, or 0.48% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 17.25 points, or 0.18%.

Among stocks, Ford Motor Co (F.N) slipped 0.5% even as it reported year-on-year sales growth for May in its China ventures in a sign of how the world’s biggest auto market is continuing its recovery from coronavirus-induced lows.

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