The S&P 500 Index looked set to build on its record run on Thursday, with tech stocks poised to help that campaign, while the Dow looked flat, ahead of expected comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and the Weekly Data on US Unemployment Benefits How are equity benchmarks doing? Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMM21, + 0.00% YM00, + 0.00% were down 13 points to 33,315, a drop of less than 0.1%. S&P 500 ESM21 futures, + 0.35% ES00, + 0.35% gained 15.10 points to reach 4,085, a gain of 0.4%. Nasdaq-100 NQM21 futures, + 0.89% NQ00, + 0.89% advanced 129 points, or 1%, to 13,733.75. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 SPX, + 0.15% added 6.01 points, or 0.2%, enough to finish at a record 4,079.95, its 18th of the year. The Dow DJIA, + 0.05%, rose 16.02 points, or 0.1%, to close at 33,446.26, its second highest result in its history, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.07% lost 9.54 points, or 0.1%, ending at 13,688.84, while booking a second consecutive day of losses. The Russell 2000 Small Cap RUT Index, -1.60% fell 1.6% to close at 2,223.05.
What drives the market? A day after the Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting minutes were released, the market may get more clarity from the central bank on the way forward. Fed Chairman Powell will discuss the world economy at a webcast conference hosted by the International Monetary Fund at 12 pm ET Thursday. On Wednesday, minutes from the Fed’s March 16-17 meeting of policymakers indicated concerns about the recovery in the labor market that is still recovering from the COVID pandemic. The Fed said it will be “some time” before the central bank’s monthly asset purchase program is cut, or before benchmark interest rates rise from current levels close to 0%. That sentiment may be enough to keep markets high, at least for now. “The minutes of the [Federal Open Market Committee] The March meeting revealed nothing new, but a reiteration of the Fed’s supportive stance appears to have been a tonic for the markets, ”wrote Sophie Griffiths, a market analyst at Oanda, in a daily note. Fed officials also downplayed fears of rising inflation, which gripped the market and helped fuel a rise in benchmark bond yields. “Federal Reserve legislators believe that any increase in inflation will be temporary and they consider it necessary to continue supporting the economy until the recovery is on firmer ground,” the analyst said. Weekly Unemployment Benefit Claims to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET will be scrutinized for more evidence that the economy is recovering, responding to vaccine launches and a $ 1.9 trillion COVID tax relief package. Rising bond yields have hurt appetite for speculative stocks, including those in technology and related sectors that have thrived amid pandemic lockdown measures. The yield of the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.647% was stable on Thursday at around 1.65%. Bond prices rise as yields fall.