Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Wall Street looks flat after S&P 500, Nasdaq record closes
- Jobless claims, GDP data out ahead of Fed summit
- Pediatric Covid hospitalizations surge to highest on record in U.S.
- U.K. reports 'high threat' of terrorist attack at Kabul airport
- Microsoft, Google promise to spend billions on cybersecurity after Biden meeting
U.S. stock futures were flat Thursday after two key before-the-bell economic reports. The S&P 500 on Wednesday crossed 4,500 for the first time ever, but ended slightly below that level for another record high close. The Nasdaq finished at another record. Both benchmarks were on five-session winning streaks heading into the open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its fourth straight positive session and inched closer to last week's record high close — roughly 0.6% away. Dow stock Salesforce rose 2% in Thursday's premarket, the morning after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue, as well as robust forward guidance.
- New claims totaled 353,000 for the week ended Aug. 21.
- The government's second look at gross domestic product for the second quarter was slightly lower than estimates at an annual rate of 6.6%.
- Taken together, the reports show an economy growing through the pandemic, despite concerns over sharply rising cases of the Covid delta variant.
Several regional Federal Reserve presidents speak Thursday, ahead of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's Friday address to the virtual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, summit. Kansas City Fed President Esther George said it's time for the central bank to start dialing back its policy stimulus.
New Covid hospital admissions for kids have reached their highest levels since the U.S. started tracking pediatric cases about a year ago. Doctors are warning it could get worse as schools begin to reopen and the fast-moving delta variant drives infections higher. While delta is more contagious than previous variants, causing a surge in pediatric hospitalizations, so far it doesn't appear to generate more severe disease in children. Kids still account for a small number of hospitalizations at 1.8%. Out of more than 520,000 Covid deaths the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has demographic data on, fewer than 500 were kids under 18.
Officials from the U.K. have warned of a "highly credible" threat of an attack at Kabul airport by Islamic State militants. The terror alert comes as massive evacuation efforts enter their final stages, with countries scrambling to get people out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden. As many as 1,500 Americans are still waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday at his first news conference since the Afghan government fell to the Taliban more than a week ago.
Business leaders from a range of industries pledged billions of dollars to increase U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. Microsoft committed $20 billion over five years to deliver more advanced security tools, CEO Satya Nadella tweeted after Wednesday's meeting at the White House with the president. Alphabet's Google promised to invest more than $10 billion over five years to strengthen cybersecurity and to train 100,000 American workers in technical fields. Two water company executives exiting the meeting told CNBC the discussion emphasized collaboration across sectors.