S&P 500 is flat as market struggles for a direction

S&P 500 is flat as market struggles for a direction

U.S stock index futures were muted in early morning trading on Thursday, largely holding on to the major averages’ gains from the Wednesday session.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed just 13 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures both traded around the flatline.

Shares of Southwest Airlines rose 1.6% in premarket trading after the carrier said leisure travel bookings continue to rise and that it expects to break even “or better” by June. Southwest also posted a narrower-than-expected loss for the first quarter.

American Airlines rallied 3% in early trading after the company said its cash flow turned positive by the end of the quarter, excluding debt payments.

Futures remained little changed after a better-than-expected reading on weekly jobless claims. The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 547,000, which was below the Dow Jones estimate for 603,000.

Stocks rose on Wednesday during regular trading hours, snapping a two-day losing streak, as companies tied to the economy reopening led the way higher. The Dow advanced 316 points, or 0.93%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.93%. The Nasdaq Composite was the relative outperformer of the major indices, rallying 1.19%.

Small caps were a particular point of strength during the session, with the Russell 2000 ending the day 2.35% higher for its best day since March 1.

The Dow and S&P 500 are less than 1% away from reclaiming their record highs, reached last Friday, amid ongoing optimism over the pace of the economic recovery.

“Stocks continue to fire on almost ‘all cylinders’ and remain in a strong position as the bull expands across the cyclical, secular, and increasingly the defensive [sector] with an economy on the offensive,” noted strategists at Evercore ISI. “The sum of which in conjunction with rising metals and materials, a milquetoast dollar, and a 10-year at 1.55%, offers the technical definition of ‘Goldilocks’ as we consolidate the powerful rally atop key support,” the firm said.

A busy week of earnings season continued on Thursday with a host of companies set to report quarterly results. Intel, Snap, Mattel, Boston Beer and Seagate Technology will report after the market closes.

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