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Stock futures are flat as investors remain cautious about September

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Stock futures were steady in overnight trading on Thursday as investors remain cautious about the month of September.

Dow futures fell 20 points. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.08% and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.09%.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 63 points, after being down as much as 274 points at its low. The S&P 500 fell 0.16%.

The Nasdaq Composite was the outperformer, rising 0.13% as Netflix, Microsoft and Amazon all closed in the green.

The Census Bureau reported Thursday that August’s retail sales increased 0.7% for the month against the Dow Jones estimate of a decline of 0.8%. However, the retail sales beat came after the initial estimate for July was revised down sharply from a month-over-month gain of 0.5% to a decline of 1.8%.

A separate economic report showed that weekly jobless claims increased to 332,000 for the week ended Sept. 11, according to the Labor Department. The Dow Jones estimate was for 320,000.

“The economy is widely thought to be slowing under the weight of the Delta variant. Combined with a bad historic September stock market seasonality and ongoing fears of inflation, has caused investors to recently turn cautious,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for Leuthold Group. “With economic growth unexpectedly reviving again, investors are questioning whether they have been too cautious keeping a bid under the overall stock market.”

Stocks are heading into Friday with modest gains for the week. The Dow is up 0.41% and the S&P 500 is up 0.34% since Monday. The Nasdaq Composite has gained 0.44% this week.

Meanwhile, for the month, stocks are in the red. The Dow is down 1.7% in September. The S&P 500 is off by 1.1% this month but still just 1.6% from its all-time high. The Nasdaq has lost 0.5% this month.

History is also not on the market’s side as September tends to be a typically negative month for stocks. Friday begins a historically weak period for stocks as those September losses typically come in the back half of the month.

Friday marks Quadruple Witching Day, where during the final hour of stock market trading, stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single-stock futures expire.


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