|The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a sharply lower opening on Thursday following the mixed performance seen in the previous session.
Concerns about a second wave of coronavirus cases may weigh on Wall Street as recent data has led to worries about economic reopening leading to a spike in infections.
According to data CNN aggregated from the Covid Tracking Project, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations since Memorial Day has risen in at least a dozen states.
Texas reported 2,504 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, reflecting the highest one-day total in the state since the pandemic emerged.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has also passed the two-million mark, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, as businesses reopen, the Labor Department released a report showing a continued decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended June 6th.
Stocks saw considerable volatility following the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday before eventually ending the session mixed.
While the Nasdaq advanced 66.59 points or 0.7 percent to a new record closing high of 10,020.35, the Dow and the S&P 500 extended the pullback seen in the previous session.
The Dow tumbled 282.31 points or 1 percent to 26,989.99 and the S&P 500 slid 17.04 points or 0.5 percent to 3,190.14.
The continued advance by the Nasdaq partly reflected notable gains by big-name tech companies like Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), which jumped by 2.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, to new record closing highs.
Meanwhile, the lower closes by the Dow and the S&P 500 came even though both indexes briefly turned positive after the Fed indicated interest rates are likely to remain at current near-zero levels through 2022.
The Fed on Wednesday announced its widely expected decision to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent.
The accompanying statement also reiterated that the Fed expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.
The economic projections provided along with the statement showed most Fed officials expect rates to remain at current levels through 2022, with only a couple predicting an increase in rates.
In his post-meeting press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is "not even thinking about thinking about raising rates."
Expectations that rates will remain at record lows come as the Fed projects real GDP to nosedive by 6.5 percent in 2020, as the ongoing public health crisis weighs heavily on economic activity.
However, the Fed’s projections call for real GDP to rebound by 5.0 percent in 2021 followed by a 3.5 percent jump in 2022.
Regarding the Fed’s asset purchase program, the central bank said it plans to increase its bond holdings at least at the current pace over the coming months but noted it remains prepared to adjust its plans as appropriate.
The Fed announcement largely overshadowed a Labor Department showing a modest decrease in consumer prices in the month of May.
Oil service stocks extended the sell-off seen in the previous session, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 7.4 percent. With the steep drop, the index pulled back further off Monday’s three-month closing high.
The weakness among oil service stocks came despite an increase by the price of crude oil. Other energy stocks also came under pressure even though crude oil rebounded after hitting a low of $37.73 a barrel earlier in the day.
Substantial weakness was also visible among banking stocks, as reflected by the 6 nosedive by the KBW Bank Index. The index also continued to give back ground after setting a three-month closing high on Monday.
Brokerage, commercial real estate, transportation and steel stocks also saw considerable weakness on the day, pulling back further off their recent highs.
On the other hand, gold stocks moved sharply higher late in the session, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 4.4 percent. The rally by gold stocks came as the price of the precious metal spiked in electronic trading after ending the regular session modestly lower.
Software stocks also showed a significant move to the upside, with the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index surging up by 2.8 percent to a new record closing high.