Futures muted with S&P 500 aiming for top

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U.S. stock index futures were trading flat on Thursday after the benchmark S&P 500 ended the previous session points below its record high close, as political wrangling over domestic stimulus measures kept investors on tenterhooks.

Attention is now on weekly U.S. jobless claims data, due at 8:30 ET (1230 GMT), which is expected to show the number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits dipped slightly from the prior week, although the labor market continues to struggle due to the pandemic.

Last week, the government’s July jobs report showed the economy has regained only 9.3 million of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.

Wall Street indexes had rallied on Wednesday with gains across most sectors, bringing the S&P 500 about 0.4 per cent below its intraday record high hit on Feb. 19.

While Wall Street has recovered most of the trillions lost during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to unprecedented stimulus and a better-than-feared earnings season, the economy has a long road to its pre-pandemic size.

Markets continued to hold on to hopes the Democrats and the White House would reach an agreement to pump more money into the economy, with unemployment benefits being a sticking point.

At 6:10 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 23 points, or 0.08 per cent. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 3.75 points, or 0.11 per cent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 13.5 points, or 0.12 per cent.

Among individual movers, Cisco Systems Inc dropped 5.8 per cent pre-market after forecasting first-quarter revenue and profit below Wall Street estimates and laying out a restructuring plan.

Southwest Airlines Co slipped 3.5 per cent in slim trade after Chief Executive Gary Kelly said he did not expect the airline will be profitable in 2020, snapping a 47-year streak of posting consecutive full-year profits.

The U.S. Presidential election is also expected to add another layer of uncertainty into markets, with roughly 12 weeks remaining until the election day.

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