U.S. stock index futures were little changed Thursday after the U.S. House passed a debt ceiling bill in a crucial step to avoid a U.S. default, with the measure now moving it to the Senate. Futures tied to the broad index were up just 0.1%, while Nasdaq-100 futures slid 0.2%. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 58 points, or 0.2%. The Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by a vote of 314-117 with bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hopes “we can move the bill quickly here in the Senate and bring it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.” Concern over a possible U.S. debt default lingered on Wall Street throughout May — which concluded Wednesday. Last month was also marked by a dramatic rally in artificial intelligence-related stocks. “The House passing a debt ceiling bill is an important step towards moving past this issue, and the market has been pricing in a resolution on the debt ceiling for some time,” said Michael Landsberg, chief investment officer of Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management. “While the debt ceiling added to headline risk, it was largely ignored by the stock market amid expectations that this issue would be resolved.” The Nasdaq Composite ended May with a 5.8% gain as enthusiasm around AI continued to boost related stocks. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped 36% in May, briefly touching a $1 trillion market cap this week. Alphabet, Meta and Amazon all rose at least 10% during the month. Outside of tech, gains were hard to come by, however. The S&P 500 inched up 0.3% in the month, while the blue-chip Dow fell almost 3.5%, dragged down by Nike, Walt Disney and Chevron. Beyond the debt ceiling battle, investors are looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s June 13-14 policy meeting as another possible market catalyst. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said Wednesday that he’s leaning toward skipping a rate hike at the upcoming gathering. But Friday’s payrolls report could change his mind, he said. Data from ADP showing private payrolls grew more than economists expected in May, coming in at 278,000 against a 180,000 consensus estimate from Dow Jones. Meanwhile, the number of jobless claims filed last week was smaller than economists forecasted. Both data points show continued resiliency in the labor market, a closely watched area of the economy given concerns that sustained strength could prompt the Fed to once again raise interest rates at its policy meeting later this month. Nordstrom jumped more than 3% in premarket trading after its fiscal first-quarter sales beat Wall Street’s expectations. Salesforce shares fell more than 6% after the software company bumped up its full-year forecast but reported higher capital expenses than expected. Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher on Thursday after the bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling was passed in the House of Representatives, advancing it to the Senate just days ahead of the default deadline. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 saw a 0.84% gain to close at 31,148.01 after it retreated from the 31,000 mark on Wednesday, with the Topix also up by 0.88% and ending at 2,149.29. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.27% to finish at 7,110.8, rebounding off a one month low. South Korean markets were more mixed. The Kospi was down 0.31% and ended at 2,569.17, being the only major Asian benchmark index to be in the red on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Kosdaq was up 0.8% and closed at 863.78, closing at its highest level in about six weeks. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rebounded after touching bear market territory, with the HSI rising fractionally. Mainland Chinese markets were also higher, with the Shanghai Composite closing marginally up at 3,204.63. The Shenzhen Component rose 0.39% to end at 10,835.9, a slight rebound from its lowest level since November 2022. Brent crude futures gained 6 cents, or 0.08%, to $72.66 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) added 11 cents, or 0.16%, to $68.25. Both benchmarks fell on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days,” said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng. “Sentiment rebounded amid the debt bill’s passage in the House and (the) Fed’s rate hike pause signal.” Gold prices held steady on Thursday, supported by a pullback in the dollar, although prices moved in a tight range as investors gauged the Federal Reserve’s interest rate outlook following a critical vote on the U.S. debt ceiling. Spot gold held its ground at $1,963.19 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were down 0.1% at $1,980.20. Bullion registered a monthly fall in May. The dollar index eased from its highest in more than two months, making bullion less expensive for overseas buyers.
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