By Peter Nurse
Investing.com — U.S. stocks are seen opening marginally lower Thursday, with investors cautious ahead of key employment data and more retail earnings.
At 7:05 AM ET (1205 GMT), the contract was down 10 points, or 0.1%, traded 8 points, or 0.2%, lower, and dropped 55 points, or 0.4%.
This expected muted start followed a relatively quiet session on Wall Street Wednesday, with the broad-based ending 0.2% higher, the blue-chip closing little changed and the tech-heavy gaining 0.6%.
Investors will keep a wary eye on the release of new labor-market data ahead of the open, especially after Randal Quarles, the Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision, stated Wednesday that the central bank will need to start discussing shortly plans to reduce its bond purchases if the economy continues to show massive improvement.
The weekly data is scheduled for release at 8:30 AM ET, with economists expecting a total of 425,000 Americans to have filed unemployment benefits in the week ended May 22, another new pandemic-era low.
Also of importance will be the number of , which are measured with a one-week time lag to initial ones, after they rose by over 100,000 to 3.751 million last week.
, and the second reading of the first-quarter release make up the rest of the economic data slate.
In the corporate sector, the likes of Best Buy (NYSE:), Dollar General (NYSE:) and Costco (NASDAQ:) are due to release quarterly earnings. Nvidia (NASDAQ:) will be in focus after the chip giant’s first quarter beat expectations, while Snowflake (NYSE:) reported widening losses after the close Wednesday.
The energy sector could also be in the spotlight after Royal Dutch Shell (LON:) was ordered by a Dutch court to drastically deepen its planned greenhouse gas emission cuts, and both Exxon Mobil (NYSE:) and Chevron (NYSE:) suffered shareholder rebellions.
Crude oil prices slipped Thursday, after recent gains, as traders digested the possible return of Iranian exports along with a hefty draw in U.S. stocks.
By 6:05 AM ET, was down 0.7% at $65.72 a barrel, while was down 0.8% at $68.21.
The market was supported late Wednesday by a bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. oil , with the Energy Information Administration reporting a draw of 1.662 million barrels for the week to May 21, suggesting rising demand from U.S. consumers.
However, the focus remains on the Iranian nuclear talks and whether sanctions on its oil exports are lifted.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, are due to meet on June 1, and these producers will have to assess whether to change their plans for easing production curbs against the prospect of Iranian supply returning to the market.