U.S. stock futures gain ground while investors focus on OPEC meeting

Wall Street stock and futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday although most investors focused their attention on developments surrounding the meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna.

The blue-chip Dow futures gained 71 points, or 0.34%, at 7:02AM ET (11:02GMT), the S&P 500 futures rose 7 points, or 0.29%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures traded up 20 points, or 0.35%.

In November last year, OPEC and 11 other non-OPEC producers, including Russia, agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day between January 1 and June 30.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC and non-OPEC producers are likely to rule on extending production cuts for 9 months, but keep them at the same level as the consensus is that deeper cuts are not needed now.

Upon al-Falih’s remarks, oil prices turned sharply lower after being up more than 1% earlier. After a period of volatility with crude swinging back and forth between the red and the black, bearish sentiment had at last appeared to take hold.

U.S. crude futures fell 1.50% to $50.59 by 7:02AM ET (11:02GMT), while Brent oil lost 1.30% to $53.26.

Apart from the press conference, market players also looked ahead to the publication of weekly jobless claims at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT) Thursday.

Futures traders are currently pricing in around a 78% chance of a hike at the Fed’s June meeting, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool, while odds for a second rate hike by December were at about 38%.

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