What you need to know before markets open

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Markets were set to open lower on Thursday.

U.S. stock index futures were lower on Thursday, each day after the Federal Reserve’s lowered expectations of two interest rate hikes in 2016 pushed the S&P 500 to its highest close this season.

* The Fed, which left rates unchanged, pointed to moderate U.S. economic growth along with a strengthening labor market but cautioned about risks from an uncertain global economy.

* The confidence from the Fed’s decision adds to the recent rally in oil prices and improving economic conditions in the usa that have helped stocks get over a rout which had gripped the market this year.

* The S&P 500 has become off only 0.8 percent in 2016, after having fallen 10.5 percent earlier in the year.

* The dollar weakened after the Fed statement, adding to a recovery in crude prices on Thursday. Benchmark Brent gained above US$40 a barrel because the market remains hopeful of a plan by major oil producers to tackle a worldwide glut.

* Investors will now parse data to assess when the economy’s recovery continues to gain momentum, even while weak economic conditions at other major countries still prompt their central banks to further loosen monetary policies.

* Data on Thursday is anticipated to show unemployment claims rose by 9,000 to 268,000 a week ago. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* Shares of Mondelez International were down 2.2 percent at US$40.80 premarket after billionaire investor William Ackman sold 20 million shares of the snack maker.

* Caterpillar was down 3.8 per cent at US$71.50 after the Dow component cut its first-quarter profit and revenue forecast.

Futures snapshot at 6:58 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 59 points, or 0.34 percent, with 32,366 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.38 percent, with 265,745 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 18.75 points, or 0.43 per cent, on amount of 27,636 contracts.

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