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Stocks – US Futures Mixed; Social Media Giants Weigh

U.S. stocks are set to open cautiously Thursday, consolidating ahead of the latest weekly jobless claims data and as tensions between the U.S. and China ratchet up.

At 07:00 AM ET (1100 GMT), S&P 500 Futures traded 5 points, or 0.2%, higher, the Dow Futures contract rose 124 points, or 0.5%, while Nasdaq Futures fell 19 points, or 0.2%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average cash index closed Wednesday above 25,000, for the first time since early March on Wednesday, and posted its largest two-day advance in over a month. The S&P 500 was at its highest since March 4, and the Nasdaq Composite since February 21.

Tensions between China and the U.S. have become even more stretched, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration could no longer certify Hong Kong’s political autonomy from China under the new national security law.

This could open the door to options including visa restrictions, asset freezes and potential tariffs.

Elsewhere, social media stocks will be in focus Thursday after President Donald Trump indicated late Wednesday that he will sign an executive order targeting these firms, following Twitter’s decision to add fact-check links to his tweets for the first time.

The order’s details have not been shared and it is unclear what regulatory steps the president can take without new laws passed by Congress.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) stock was down 2.7% and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stock was down 1.4% in premarket trade.

In economic news, the key release Thursday will be the latest initial claims number, at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT), with more than 2 million people expected to have applied for unemployment benefits last week.

It’s also important to look at the level of continuing claims as the U.S. starts to reopen. These are expected to edge up to 25.75 million.

The crude oil market saw mixed trading Thursday, with the U.S. contract underperforming after the American Petroleum Institute reported a surprise addition of 8.7 million barrels to U.S. stockpiles, after a draw of 2.5 million barrels had been expected.

The official U.S. petroleum inventory numbers are now due at 11 AM ET (1500 GMT), and analysts expect oil inventories to have fallen by about 1.9 million barrels for the week ended May 22.

At 7:00 AM ET, U.S. crude June futures traded 1.2% lower at $32.41 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.6% to $35.16.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.7% to $1,722.65/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1006, largely flat.

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