U.S. stock futures pared early declines Thursday morning, as investors parsed an updated policy statement from the European Central Bank that could help to inform the Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back on COVID-era policies.

What’s happening

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
YM00,
-0.03%

traded 2 points, or less than 0.1%, lower to 35,012.

Futures on the S&P 500
ES00,
-0.08%

slipped 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,510.

Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
-0.05%

traded 5 points, or less than 0.1%, lower at 15,613.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 69 points, or 0.2%, to 35031.07, the S&P 500 dropped 6 points, or 0.1%, to 4514.07, and the Nasdaq Composite ended lower by 88 points, or 0.6%, to 15286.64.

What’s driving markets

Markets were trading virtually unchanged following an updated policy statement from the ECB.

Europe’s central bank indicated that it would conduct asset purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program, or PEPP, at a “moderately lower pace” after accelerating purchases in recent quarters. “Based on a joint assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council judges that favorable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases under the PEPP than in the previous two quarters,” the ECB said following a meeting of its Governing Council.

The ECB said PEPP purchases would continue with an envelope of €1.85 trillion through at least the end of March 2022. The ECB left key interest rates unchanged, as expected. ECB President Christine Lagarde will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Frankfurt time, or 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President John Williams, who gets a vote at every interest-rate-setting meeting, said late Wednesday the central bank is still on track to reduce its bond purchases this year.

“Recently, stocks were in an upside trajectory on falling expectations that the Fed will taper this year, and this was due to the latest disappointing U.S. jobs data,” said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group.

Williams comments, however, suggest to some that there remains a chance that the Fed will announce a tapering plan sooner than later.

Which companies are in focus

GameStop
GME,
-0.10%

was under pressure after-hours as the videogames retailer remained coy on its longer-term plans.

Lululemon Athletica
LULU,
-1.45%

by contrast rallied as the athleisure-apparel maker blew past Wall Street estimates for the quarter and increased its full-year forecast

How other assets are trading

The 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.336%

edged was mostly unchanged at 1.34%.

The dollar was trading 0.2% lower, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
-0.17%
,
which stood at around 92.49.

Gold futures were on the rise, with the December contract
GCZ21,
+0.36%

up 0.3% at around $1,800 an ounce.

Oil futures
CL.1,
+0.62%

were up, with West Texas Intermediate oil for November
CLX21,
+0.59%

up 0.6% at $69.48 a barrel.

The Hang Seng
HSI,
-2.30%

tumbled 2.3% as China took aim at its videogame makers. The South China Morning Post reported the government will freeze new game approvals.

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