U.S. Futures Extend Losses After Jobless Claims; Dow Sheds 0.5%

Forexpros
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Forexpros – U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, extending losses after official data showed that U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, while markets awaited speeches from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Barack Obama.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a loss of 0.5%, the S&P 500 futures indicated a decline of 0.6%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures pointed to a 0.45% drop.

Stock futures added to losses after official data showed that first time jobless claims rose by 2,000 to 414,000 last week, confounding expectations for a decline to 405,000.

A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to USD44.8 billion in July, compared to expectations of USD51.0 billion deficit.

Meanwhile, markets were awaiting a speech from Fed Chief Bernanke later in the day for any hints regarding further easing measures.

Later in the day, President Obama was to address a joint session of Congress, where he was expected to announce a USD300 billion stimulus package to bolster the U.S. economy and spur job growth.

In earnings news, shares in the world’s largest pork producer and processor Smithfield Foods jumped 2.9% after reporting a 7.6% increase in fiscal first quarter net income on 6.6% higher revenue.

On the downside, shares in Pall Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of filtration, separation, and purification products, dropped 2.5% after it lowered its earnings outlook for the fourth quarter, due to weakness in its industrial segment.

Meanwhile, shares in diagnostics technologies company Caliper Life Sciences soared 41.5% after it agreed to be acquired by PerkinElmer in a deal valued at USD600 million.

Other stocks in focus include technology bellwether Microsoft, which said it will unveil an early version of its Windows 8 operating system at its annual shareholder conference next Tuesday.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets pared gains after the European Central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.50%.

The EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.25%, France’s CAC 40 edged 0.1% higher, Germany’s DAX dipped 0.1%, while Britain’s FTSE 100 was 0.05% lower.

Also Thursday, the Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate on hold at 0.5% and kept its asset-buying program unchanged at GBP200 billion.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release government data on crude oil inventories, natural gas stockpiles as well as a report on consumer credit.

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