Buyers have been in control so far in 2018, pushing the U.S. equity market to new record highs in each of the first two trading sessions of the new year. Stocks are on track to begin today's session in positive territory as well, evidenced by the S&P 500 futures, which are trading six points, or 0.2%, above fair value.
A better-than-expected ADP National Employment Report for December, which showed the addition of 250,000 nonfarm payrolls (Briefing.com consensus +190,000), has helped strengthen this morning's upbeat tone. The ADP figure is seen as a prelude to tomorrow's much more influential Employment Situation Report for December (Briefing.com consensus +188,000), although it's worth noting that the ADP number often deviates sharply from the official government figure.
Separately, the latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 250,000, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 239,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 247,000 (from 245,000). As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.914 million from a revised count of 1.951 million (from 1.943 million).
Treasury yields were higher ahead of this morning's batch of economic data and have extended their gains in the aftermath. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note is hovering at 2.48% after finishing Wednesday at 2.45%, while the 2-yr yield is up five basis points at 1.98%.
Elsewhere, equity indices in the Asia-Pacific region ended Thursday on a higher note with Japan's Nikkei (+3.3%) climbing to its best level since 1991. The major European bourses are trading in the green, although the UK's FTSE (+0.2%) is struggling to keep pace. The Euro Stoxx 50 is higher by 1.5%.
Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude futures are up 0.1% at $61.69 per barrel after the American Petroleum Institute reported a draw of 5.0 million barrels for the week ended December 29 on Wednesday evening. The official government figures will be released later this morning at 11:00 AM ET.