Trump Comments, Weak GDP Data, Mixed Earnings May Lead To Choppy Trading

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a roughly flat opening on Friday, as traders digest comments from President Donald Trump as well as the latest U.S. economic data.

Geopolitical concerns may weigh on the markets after Trump warned of a major conflict with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

Trump said he wants to resolve the standoff with North Korea peacefully but argued a diplomatic solution is “very difficult.”

Traders are also digesting a Commerce Department report showing weaker than expected economic growth in the first quarter along with a mixed batch of corporate earnings news.

Stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Thursday but managed to end the day mostly higher. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high.

The major averages finished the session in positive territory. The Dow inched up 6.24 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 20,981.33, the Nasdaq rose 23.71 points or 0.4 percent to 6,048.94 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.32 points or 0.1 percent to 2,388.77.

The choppy trading seen on Wall Street for much of the day came as traders digested the latest batch of earnings news.

Shares of Comcast (CMCSA) saw notable strength on the day after the telecom giant reported first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates.

Drug giant Bristol-Myers (BMY) also moved to the upside after reporting first quarter results that topped expectations.

On the other hand, Southwest Airlines (LUV) came under pressure after reporting first quarter earnings and revenues that came in below analyst estimates.

Auto giant Ford (F) also moved lower despite reporting better than expected first quarter results on both the top and bottom lines.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 22nd.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 257,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 243,000.

The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 241,000 from the 244,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed that new orders for manufactured durable goods climbed by less than expected in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose by 0.7 percent in March after jumping by a revised 2.3 percent in February.

Economists had expected orders to surge up by 1.2 percent compared to the 1.8 percent increase that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a jump in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders edged down by 0.2 percent in March after climbing by 0.7 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors also released a report showing a…

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