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Dow Futures Sputter Ahead of Pivotal GDP Revision

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:03 PM
Sam Bourgi
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:03 PM

Futures on the Dow Jones and broader U.S. stock market struggled for direction in overnight trading Thursday, as investors braced for the Commerce Department’s third and final reading of second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP).

Dow Futures Edge Lower; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

Futures on all three major U.S. indexes traded slightly lower at the time of writing, setting the stage for a soft start to Thursday’s session. Dow Jones futures edged down 21 points, or 0.1%.

DJIA chart
Dow Jones Industrial Average on track for a lukewarm start to Thursday trading. | Chart: Bloomberg

Futures on the large-cap S&P 500 Index fell 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100 mini contract declined 0.2%.

U.S. Economic Data Eyed

The Department of Commerce is scheduled to release a revised reading of second-quarter GDP on Thursday, giving investors a final look at the three months through June. Like the revised estimate, the third and final update is expected to show annual growth of 2%.

How the U.S. economy wrapped up Q2 could have direct implications on it well GDP performed in the third quarter. Economic indicators have improved over the past month, but estimates on growth remain tilted to the downside.

For example, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank is projecting  annual growth of 1.9% between July and September, which would be lower than the already disappointing second-quarter tally. Meanwhile, IHS Markit says  U.S. GDP was on track to expand just 1.5% annually based on its last two PMI reports covering manufacturing and services.

The Commerce Department is also scheduled to report on the August goods trade balance Thursday. Washington’s deficit is forecast to have expanded to $77.3 billion from $72.3 billion in July.

Labor economists cap off an active morning session with their weekly jobless claims report. The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits is forecast to have risen by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212,000 in the week ended Sept. 21.