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US pre-open: Flat start expected ahead of GDP data, earnings

(Sharecast News) - US stock futures were pointing to a flat start on Wall Street on Thursday as markets tread water at record highs with investors adopting a cautious tone in light of mixed corporate earnings and important incoming economic data. Disappointing results from heavyweight Tesla overnight and nervousness ahead of Thursday's US GDP report and Friday's personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index data meant the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both pointing to no change early on, after the former set a new closing high of 4,868.55 the previous session.

Futures on the Dow however were up 0.3% after two straight days of losses for the index after hitting a new record earlier in the week.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis will release its preliminary estimate for fourth-quarter US GDP at 0830 ET and is expected to report that annual growth slowed to just 2.0% from 4.9% in the third quarter.

US jobless claims are also due on Thursday, along with a monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank.

Then on Friday we'll see the release of the closely watched US PCE index - the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation - which is forecast to show that the annual rate of inflation eased to 3.0% in December from 3.2% in November - which was already the lowest level since April 2021.

Tesla, the first of the so-called Magnificent Seven tech stocks to report, disappointed shareholders with its results after the closing bell on Wednesday as both earnings and sales missed analysts' forecasts for the fourth quarter. Futures were down 8% ahead of the open on Thursday at $191.50, their lowest in eight months, after the electric carmaker also said 2024 volumes would be "notably lower" than 2023.

"Tesla look set to provide a dampener on market sentiment for the S&P 500 at the open [...] Coupled with a downbeat assessment over the health of demand for the year ahead, we have seen stocks across the entire sector head lower," said Joshua Mahony, analyst at Scope Markets.

"Bulls will hope that payment giant Visa will provide a more upbeat assessment today, with the company heading up another busy day that also sees the likes of Intel, T-Mobil, Comcast, and ServiceNow report."

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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