Futures tick higher ahead of weekly jobless claims data

U.S. stock index futures edged up on Thursday ahead of labor market data, while investors assessed the Federal Reserve’s July meeting minutes that suggested the central bank might pursue a less aggressive monetary policy tightening path.

Traders see a slightly greater probability of the Fed raising rates by 50 basis points in September, rather than a third 75 basis-point hike, after the minutes on Wednesday. [FEDWATCH]

“The July FOMC minutes indicated that participants thought that ‘at some point’ it would likely become appropriate to slow the pace of hiking while assessing the impact from tighter financial conditions,” Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said in a note.

Treasury yields pulled back slightly, giving a boost to some of the high-growth and technology stocks in premarket trading.

The Fed has lifted its benchmark interest rate by 225 bps so far this year to control four-decades high inflation, resulting in a sharp selloff in equity markets as investors adjust to tightening financial conditions.

The Labor Department data, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended Aug. 13, up from 262,000 in the previous week.

Data showing softer-than-expected inflation in July has sparked a risk-on rally in Wall Street in the last few weeks, with investors awaiting further clues about interest rates from the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium next week.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has bounced nearly 22% from its mid-June lows, while the benchmark S&P 500 has risen 17%, supported by upbeat results from corporate America.

At 07:01 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 28 points, or 0.08%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.25 points, or 0.08%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.03%.

Retailer Kohl’s Corp (NYSE:KSS) dropped 7.5% on cutting its full-year sales and profit forecasts squeezed by steeper discounts and higher costs, while Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) Cos Inc slipped 1.6% as it forecast full-year sales below estimates.

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