Wall Street futures flat as traders monitor earnings and Covid-19 cases

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Futures pointing to a muted session

U.S. stocks are set to open flat on Thursday amid a fresh wave of coronavirus cases in a number of countries including India and Japan, raising the prospect of new obstacles to the expected global economic recovery.

Indian authorities recorded 314,835 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day tally in any country since the start of the pandemic. The country also registered a record 2,104 deaths.

In Japan, authorities are expected to announce a state of emergency in three provinces including the nation’s capital Tokyo, due to a renewed rise in Covid-19 infections.

By 5:20 a.m. ET, the blue-chip Dow futures were indicated 23 points, or 0.07% lower to 33,993. S&P 500 futures and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed.

AT&T, Intel, Snap earnings

Meanwhile, there will be a number of big companies reporting quarterly results today.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) ,and AT&T (NYSE: T) will announce quarterly earnings before the market opens.

Snap (NYSE: SNAP), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Seagate (NASDAQ: STX), and BJ’s Restaurants (NASDAQ: BJRI) report after the market close.

Jobless claims data on tap

On the economic data front, the U.S. Labor Department will publish its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the report to show initial jobless claims for the week ended April 17 were 610,000, down from 576,000 a week earlier.

Continuing claims for the week ended April 3 are seen coming at 3.640 million compared to the 3.731 million the department reported a week ago.

ECB meeting eyed

Traders will also be watching to see whether the European Central Bank will announce any changes in its policies after its interest-rate setting meeting later today. ECB President Christine Lagarde will hold a press briefing after the meeting.

Economists expect the bank to signal that even if inflation shoots up later this year, it will not consider withdrawing any of its extraordinary economic support measures for Europe, which is lagging China and the U.S. amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the wake of the pandemic, ECB policymakers launched the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP), which purchases bonds in the Eurozone to facilitate spending and spur an economic recovery.