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Nasdaq Futures Rally; Facebook Rises, Jobless Claims Hit 48-Year Low

Nasdaq futures ran well ahead of the other big benchmarks Thursday, in an uneven premarket session driven by earnings news from Facebook (FB), Visa (V), PayPal (PYPL) and others. Markets received an added boost from Labor Department data released before the open, showing U.S. unemployment claims falling to their lowest level since 1969.

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Nasdaq 100 futures popped 1.3% in premarket action, propelled by Facebook and PayPal. O’Reilly Automotive (ORLY) also shouldered the wheel. Dow Jones industrials futures rose 0.3%, with Visa and Intel (INTC) leading. S&P 500 futures added 0.5% as Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and O’Reilly each knocked off double-digit gains.

Stocks poised near buy points early Thursday included Micron Technology (MU), Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) and TAL Education Group (TAL).

The major indexes will be looking to retake some lost ground on the stock market today. The Dow Jones industrials index moves into Thursday’s session down 1.6% for the week.  The S&P 500 holds a 1.2% loss. Both indexes are close to their 200-day moving averages, but well off lows marked by the Dow on April 2, and by the S&P 500 on Feb. 9. The Dow is 9.5% off its January high. The S&P 500 is 8.1% below its January peak.


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The Nasdaq Composite and Nasdaq 100 are each down 2%, but still well above their 200-day lines as well as their consolidation lows. The composite ended Wednesday 8.3% below its mid-March peak. The undercut of a key technical level on Wednesday flashed growth investors a warning sign.

Small caps have sidestepped some of the week’s losses, with the Russell 2000 off only 0.9% through Wednesday’s session. Meanwhile, chip stocks have suffered a harder hit than the general market, leaving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down 2.3% through Wednesday. But chip stocks appeared poised for an early rebound Thursday.

Facebook, AMD Drive Nasdaq Futures; Chip Stocks Gear For Rebound

Facebook rumbled ahead 7.5% after reporting diluted earnings of $1.69 per share, topping analyst targets by 25%. Revenue of $11.97 billion also beat consensus views, and user numbers met expectations. Premarket action suggested the stock could open back above its 10-week moving average. That would set the stock up to begin climbing the right side of a possible base. Premarket moves do not always carry over into regular trade.

Chip stocks gathered for a sharp early advance, with all 30 of the Philly Chip Index stocks trading flat to higher. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) led, up 10% in premarket trade. The chipmaker reported significant acceleration in earnings and revenue growth in its first-quarter results late Wednesday, and guidance pointed to further acceleration ahead. The stock has been consolidating for nine months, and has fallen below crucial levels of technical support.

Among the other chip names in premarket motion, Xilinx (XLNX) jumped 5%, InterDigital (IDCC) rose 3.3% and Micron Technology rose 2.9%. Micron is looking to retake a cup base buy point at 49.99. It pulled back to nearly 8% below that entry, stopping just short of an absolute trigger of the automatic sell rule.

Chipotle Shares Power Up

Chipotle Mexican Grill rocketed 13.8% higher following stronger-than-expected first-quarter results, leading the S&P 500 in premarket trading. That positioned the stock for a potential breakout early Thursday. The stock ended Wednesday session just below a 330.24 buy point in a bottoming base, but shares remain deep in a year-long consolidation and should be approached with added caution.

O’Reilly Automotive ran a hot second among S&P 500 stock futures, up 12% in premarket trading. Its first-quarter sales and profit narrowly beat analyst targets. The stock finished Wednesday’s session 18% below its January high.

Domino’s Pizza spun up a 5.8% premarket advance. A 59% earnings gain and a 26% improvement in revenue trounced analyst estimates. Shares ended Wednesday trades 1% below a 236.10 buy point in a flat base.

IBD 50 Stock Jumps, Airlines Under Pressure

IBD 50 name TAL Education popped 5.2% in premarket trading. The China-based chain of after school tutoring centers blew past analyst expectations with a 75% earnings gain and a 59% rise in revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter. The premarket move positioned shares to open back above a 36.26 buy point, but the stock comes with a long list of cautions. Among the most important, the base is very late stage, and the stock had pulled back more than 8% below the base’s entry, tripping the automatic sell rule.

On the downside, airline stocks were under early pressure. American Airlines (AAL) narrowed its early loss to 2.9% as lowered full-year earnings guidance diluted strong unit revenue growth and a narrow earnings beat for the first quarter.  Southwest Airlines (LUV) dumped 3.8% following mixed first-quarter results. The mood spilled over onto Delta Air Lines (DAL) and United Airlines (UAL), but both had trimmed early losses to a bit more than 1% apiece.

Treasury Yield, Oil Price In Focus; Unemployment Claims Dive

Treasury yields and oil prices could have some impact on how durable early gains might be across the span of Thursday’s session. Early trade Thursday showed bonds rising a bit off Wednesday’s settle price, sending the 10-year yield down 4 basis points to 2.99%. Crude oil prices climbed another 0.8%, putting U.S. benchmark crude near $69 a barrel and within 2% of last Thursday’s 41-month high.

March durable goods orders increased 2.6%, the Commerce Department said, down from February’s 3.5% surge, but still well above the 1.7% gain expected by economists. Transportation powered the beat. Core orders, minus transportation were down 0.1% for the month, and below forecasts for a 0.6% increase.

First-time unemployment claims slowed to 209,000 in the week ended April 21, the Labor Department estimated. That was down from an already low 233,000 claims in the prior week, falling to what was reportedly the lowest level in 48 years, and undercutting economist views for a slight decrease to 230,000 new filings.

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