5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

  • S&P futures rise after the index closed at another record
  • Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to drop
  • Biden to unveil actions on guns, including a new ATF director
  • Biden is open to negotiating on corporate tax hike
  • Amazon union drive in Alabama sees 55% voter turnout

1. S&P futures rise after the index closed at another record

U.S. stock futures were mostly higher Thursday after the S&P 500 eked out another record closing high as minutes from the Federal Reserve's March meeting showed policymakers' commitment to accommodative monetary policy to support a full economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday also saw a small gain but not enough for a record close. The Nasdaq dipped even as Amazon, Apple and Alphabet climbed more than 1% and Facebook jumped 2.2%. The 10-year Treasury yield, still under 1.7% early Thursday, has been rather steady recently after a run of 14-month highs in March.

2. Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to drop

The Labor Department is set to issue its weekly look at jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, one hour before Wall Street's opening bell. Economists expect 694,000 new filings for unemployment benefits last week. That would be 25,000 fewer than the prior week. While those numbers remain inordinately high compared with pre-pandemic records, they continue to drop as the economy reopens more and more and the U.S. administers 3 million Covid vaccinations per day.

3. Biden to unveil actions on guns, including new ATF director

President Joe Biden is expected to unveil a series of executive actions on Thursday addressing gun violence after a spate of mass shootings. While delivering his first major steps to crack down on firearms since taking office, the president is also set to nominate gun-control advocate and ex-federal agent David Chipman as ATF director, according to senior Biden administration officials. Those officials said the Justice Department would issue a new proposed rule to require buyers of homemade guns — often fashioned from parts and lacking serial numbers to — undergo background checks.

4. Biden is open to negotiating on corporate tax hike

Biden said Wednesday he's willing to negotiate on a proposed corporate tax rate hike to 28% to help pay for his more than $2 trillion infrastructure plan. "I'm willing to listen," the president said. However, Biden faces pressure from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has already come out against a 28% corporate rate. In a 50-50 Senate, Manchin's vote could make all the difference. The West Virginia lawmaker said Wednesday he's opposed to a process that makes it easier to pass bills without Republican support.

5. Amazon union drive in Alabama sees 55% voter turnout

Ballot counting in a high-stakes vote over whether to unionize one of Amazon's Alabama warehouses could begin as soon as Thursday. More than 3,200 votes were cast, a turnout rate of roughly 55%, which is higher than what the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union initially estimated. The voting in Bessemer has been closely watched inside and outside of Amazon, as it could establish the first union at one of the e-commerce giant's warehouses in the U.S. Amazon workers in many European nations are already unionized.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC's coronavirus blog.

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