Stock futures were higher on Thursday, Sept. 7, following an expected move from the European Central Bank to leave policy unchanged and a big jump in the number of unemployed collecting benefits in the U.S.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 0.05%, S&P 500 futures added 0.05%, and Nasdaq futures gained 0.1%.
The ECB said Thursday that it would leave interest rates unchanged and that it anticipates they will remain at the current level for an "extended period." The move was as economists expected. The bank's main refinancing operations rate held at 0% and the rate on deposits at minus 0.4%.
The central bank also said it would continue to repurchase assets through December and possibly beyond that date if needed. The bank currently repurchases 60 billion euros in bonds per month, though has left a possible increase to that amount open-ended should the economic outlook worsen.
"If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, the Governing Council stands ready to increase the programme in terms of size and/or duration," the ECB said in a statement.
Economists anticipate the program will begin winding down next year.
In a press conference Thursday, ECB President Mario Draghi said further monetary stimulus is needed to support inflation trends, though said the central bank had held early talks on how long to maintain its quantitative easing program. The ECB will further discuss easing plans at its October and December meetings.
Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. posted their largest increase in years as Hurricane Harvey derailed thousands' ability to work. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 62,000 to 298,000 in the past week, the largest gain since Hurricane Sandy in November 2012 and the highest level since April 2015.
U.S. productivity in the second quarter was revised to show 1.5% growth, up from 0.9%. Output was also increased to 4% growth from 3.4%. Unit labor costs were a third of previous estimates, coming in at 0.2% growth.
Wall Street posted modest gains on Wednesday after President Donald Trump made a surprise move by siding with the Democrats on a deal to extend the debt ceiling to mid-December. The proposed extension is tied to a Hurricane Harvey relief package. House Speaker Paul Ryan had earlier called the proposal "unworkable" and accused Democrats of playing politics.
Hurricane Irma, meanwhile, kept a cap on any bigger market rally on Wednesday. Irma, the latest weather risk, made landfall in the Caribbean earlier Wednesday and has the potential to reach Florida by the weekend. A state of emergency has been declared in Florida and Puerto Rico.
Miami is preparing for its largest evacuation in more than a decade Thursday as the U.S. National Hurricane Cents warned that Hurricane Irma, potentially the most powerful storm to hit the American mainland since 1992, was maintaining its category 5 wind speed as it bears down on the south Florida coast.
Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in some coastal areas of Dade County, the metropolitan area of Miami, to move inland and ordered local schools closed for the remainder of the week. The evacuation order, which will take effect at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, is the first since Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and is expected to affect around 150,000 people.
Activist investor Nelson Peltz late Wednesday released a 93-page white paper detailing his campaign for change at Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) . Some of those ideas included plans to eliminate an "insular" culture, increase M&A activities and restructure the packaged goods company into three global business units. The activist investor, who owns about $3.5 billion in Procter & Gamble shares, says he wants to eliminate what he sees as a "suffocating bureaucracy." The plan comes as Peltz seeks one seat on the company's board.
In response, Procter & Gamble said Peltz had an "outdated and misinformed" view of the company's operations and that his paper held "nothing substantive." The company reiterated confidence in its current plan and board.
GoPro Inc. (GPRO - Get Report) surged 12% in premarket trading after guiding for a surprise profit in its third quarter. Analysts had expected a net loss of 5 cents a share over the quarter. The action camera company also said it expects revenue at the "high end" of a previous range of $290 million to $310 million, surpassing consensus of $304 million. Chief operating officer CJ Prober said in a statement that "consumer demand for GoPro products is strong."
General Mills Inc. (GIS - Get Report) moved lower on Thursday after issuing guidance for its fiscal year ending May 2018. Adjusted earnings per share are targeted to rise 1% to 2% on a constant currency basis. Organic net sales are expected to dip 1% to 2% and total segment operating profit in constant currency to come in flat to 1% higher.
Updated from 8:39 a.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 7.
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