US pre-open: Futures point to modest gains despite lingering trade tensions
Wall Street futures were pointing to modest gains at the open on Thursday after markets reversed their opening misfortunes to finish in the green on Wednesday.
As of 1220 BST, Dow Jones futures were pointing to a gain of 0.37% at the opening bell, while both S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures had the indexes opening 0.39% firmer.
Discussing the session ahead, SpreadEx's Connor Campbell said: "The Dow Jones is set to get in on the action this afternoon. The futures have the index climbing just over 100 points, meaning the Dow will have swung from 25,750 to sub-25,300 and back again in the last few sessions."
Trade tensions looked set to continue weighing on investor sentiment on Thursday after the Department of Commerce announced the addition of Huawei Technologies to the Bureau of Industry and Security's Entity List, making it more difficult for the Chinese telecommunications giant to conduct business with American firms.
Donald Trump went as far as to declare a national emergency on Wednesday before banning Huawei and ZTE from selling their equipment in the US, claiming they pose "unacceptable risks".
Elsewhere, CNBC reported that Trump planned to postpone auto tariffs on the EU by as much as six months. The White House faces a Saturday deadline to decide whether to slap duties on car and auto part imports over national security concerns.
Oanda's Craig Erlam said: "The experience of a trade war with China hasn’t deterred the Trump administration from this hostile and potentially damaging method of improving trade terms between the US and its partners. While we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we’re not going to see trade wars on multiple fronts, the battle has merely been postponed."
On the data front, investors will be looking out for housing starts for April, weekly jobless figures and the Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook at 1330 BST.
Discussing Thursday's data releases, TD Securities said: "Housing starts are expected to recover to 1,209k in April (+6.2% m/m) following two consecutive monthly declines that brought starts lower from 1,298k in January. Recent weakness has mostly been driven by a soft showing in starts in the single-family segment.
"Separately, the Philly Fed survey is expected to show a minor improvement in manufacturing activity to 9.0 following a -5.2 decline to 8.5 in April. This will be the second look on the manufacturing sector for May after the stronger-than-expected increase in activity reported by the NY Empire survey."
In corporate news, retail giant Walmart will unveil its first-quarter results ahead of the opening bell, while Baidu, Applied Materials and Pinterest will report after the close.