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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Thursday

5 key factors for the markets on Thursday

Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, May 17:

1. Oil climbs to 2014 high as Brent edges near $80

Oil prices continued to rally on Thursday, hitting their highest levels since November 2014, with Brent hovers near the $80 psychological level.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran has sent shockwaves through the oil markets, as traders expect the action to reduce exports from the world’s fifth largest producer.

Late Wednesday, French energy giant Total (PA:TOTF) announced it would withdraw from an Iranian gas deal before the end of the year, unless it was able to obtain a waiver from the U.S. government.

Total is worried that it could be the target of secondary sanctions from the U.S. if it continues to deal with Iran and European firms doubt the possibility of U.S. leniency.

U.S. crude oil futures gained 0.87% to $72.01 at 5:54AM ET (9:54GMT), while Brent oil rose 0.69% to $79.83, off an intraday high of $80.12.

2. Bond yields hit multi-year highs

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield continued to rally on Thursday after having broken through both 3.0% and 3.1% this week. It was last up around 1.1 basis points at 3.106% by 5:55AM ET (9:55GMT), just off an intraday high of 3.122%, levels not seen since May 2011.

The Fed-sensitive 2-year yield was at 2.594%, not far from its highest level since August 2008.

The recent bounce in yields came as strengthening inflation prospects added to expectations of a more hawkish approach from the Federal Reserve this year.

Investors have fully priced in a rate rise at the Fed's next policy meeting on June 12-13. However, Wall Street is divided over how many more times the central bank will raise interest rates after that. While some expect just two more hikes this year, the odds of a third move in December have passed the 50% threshold this week.

3. Walmart to release earnings with eye on e-commerce

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is one of the last notable names slated to report fiscal first-quarter results before U.S. markets open Thursday, as the earnings season continues to wind down.

The world’s largest retailer is expected to report earnings of $1.12 per share on revenue of $120.46 billion, according to estimates.

Investors will likely be keeping a close eye on the blue-chip retailer’s e-commerce number after fourth quarter figures caused concern that the Dow component’s growth had peaked.

Among other companies reporting on Thursday, JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) will also release quarterly results before the opening bell, while Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) will report after the market close.

4. Jobless claims, manufacturing data and Fed speakers on tap

The dollar hovered near five-month highs against major rivals on Thursday as investors looked ahead to data on the labor market and a reading on manufacturing, while waiting for more input from Federal Reserve policymakers.

Consensus expects weekly jobless claims to tick slightly higher to 215,000 from the prior 211,000, while manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia Fed region was expected to drop to 21.0 in May from the prior month’s reading of 23.2.

Market participants will also keep a close eye on appearances from Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari and Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan for any clues on their outlook for policy tightening.

5. U.S. futures point to slight decline

U.S. futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Thursday as the Dow struggled to return to positive territory for the week. Gains seen a day earlier weren’t enough to erase Tuesday’s losses, which had been the blue-chip index’s first decline in eight sessions.

At 5:57AM ET (9:57GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures slipped 15 points, or 0.06%, S&P 500 futures edged down 4 points, or 0.16%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures declined 24 points, or 0.35%.

Elsewhere, European stocks were mostly higher as investors digested earnings.

Earlier, Asian shares closed with mixed signs as investors kept an eye on rising U.S. yields and waited for the second round of U.S.-China trade talks to kick off in Washington on Thursday.

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