US futures point to a muted open, as major earnings loom

U.S. stock index futures slipped slightly ahead of Thursday’s open, after U.S. markets posted strong gains in the previous session.

Around 3:35 a.m. ET, Dow futures slipped 18 points, indicating a lower open of 14.62 points down. Futures on the S&P 500 were pointing to a negative open of -0.85 points, while Nasdaq futures fluctuated, signaling an open of 9.24 points up.

On Thursday, a slew of corporate earnings are expected to have an influence on the market agenda. Some of the major names set to report include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Union Pacific, American Airlines Group, Southwest Air, Intel, Starbucks, Alaska Air, Discover Financial and Western Digital.

Aside from fresh earnings, new economic data is due out too. At 8:30 a.m. ET, jobless claims are scheduled to be released, followed by the U.S. composite purchasing managers’ index figures at 9:45 a.m. ET, and the Kansas City Fed survey at 11 a.m. ET.

Another economic topic set to commence on Thursday is a central bank meeting in Europe. Before the U.S. opening bell, the European Central Bank will host its latest governing council meeting, which will be watched closely after the institution announced last month that it would formally end its multi-trillion bond-buying program at the end of 2018.

This gathering comes less than a week before the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting.

Elsewhere, politics continues to add jitters to markets, whether that’s international woes surrounding Brexit or more domestic concerns such as trade talks with China.

One topic that is expected to be front and center on Thursday however is the ongoing government shutdown.

In the latest surrounding the topic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats would block President Donald Trump from delivering his State of the Union address until the government reopened — an announcement that Trump complied with.

On Thursday, the Senate is slated to vote on a pair of bills, which could lead to terminating the month-long partial shutdown – that is, if they are passed.

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