After moving modestly higher over the course of the previous session, stocks are likely to move back to the downside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 56 points.
Disappointing jobs data may weigh on the markets in early trading, with a report from the Labor Department showing that jobless claims came in above estimates in the week ended September 15th.
While jobless claims edged down to 382,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 385,000, economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 373,000 from the 382,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "Bottom line, the labor market still can't gain any lasting traction in light of the obvious economic challenges."
The downward momentum for stocks also comes on the heels of the release of a report showing a continued contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity.
Not long after the open, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of August. Economists expect the leading indicators index to come in flat.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve is also due to release a report on regional manufacturing activity. The index of activity in the sector is expected to climb to a negative 4.0 in September from a negative 7.1 in August, although a negative reading still indicates a contraction.
Among individual stocks, shares of Adobe Systems (ADBE: Quote) could be in focus after the publishing and design software developer reported third quarter earnings that met analyst estimates but on weaker than expected sales. The company also forecast fourth quarter results below analyst estimates.
Home furnishings retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY: Quote) may come under pressure in early trading after reporting second quarter earnings that rose year-over-year but still came in weaker than expected.
Meanwhile, shares of Nike (NKE: Quote) may move to the upside after the athletic apparel giant said its board has approved a new four-year, $8 billion program to repurchase shares of the company's Class B common stock.
Stocks moved modestly higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, although buying interest remained subdued. Lingering uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets helped to keep traders on the sidelines.
The major averages gave back ground going into the close but managed to end the day posting slim gains. The Dow inched up 13.32 points or 0.1 percent to 13,577.96, the Nasdaq crept up 4.82 points or 0.2 percent to 3,182.62 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.73 points or 0.1 percent at 1,461.05.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw considerable weakness during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dropped by 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 1.2 percent.
The major European markets are also moving to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.35 to $91.63 a barrel after tumbling $3.31 to $91.98 a barrel on Wednesday. Gold futures, which edged up $0.50 to $1,771.70 an ounce in the previous session, are sliding $5 to $1,766.70 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 78.12 yen compared to the 78.38 yen it fetched at the close of New York on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.2945 compared to yesterday's $1.3048.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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