Stock Futures Slump on Jobless Claims Data, Wal-Mart
Fiscal cliff fears and data indicating that the eurozone fell back into a recession also was weighing on the markets.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 40 points, 30.95 points below fair value, at 12,504. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.29 points, or 1.78 points below fair value, at 1350. Futures for the Nasdaq were up less than 1 point, or 0.02 points below fair value, at 2530.
"We expect continued volatility with bias toward the downside as markets continue to worry about the resolution of the fiscal cliff," cautioned Mike Simmons, managing director and partner at HighTower. "If Washington can reach a compromise in short order, we could see a nice rally."
The major U.S. stock averages were walloped Wednesday, dragged lower by persistent worries about the fiscal cliff.
The selling accelerated after President Barack Obama again stressed his commitment to ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans during a press conference. The president's firm stance sets the stage for a tough battle with Republicans toward compromise on the next federal budget.
The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 10 rose by 78,000 to 439,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 361,000. Economists were expecting jobless claims of 375,000.
The four-week moving average was 383,750, an increase of 11,750 from the prior week's 372,000.
Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 3 increased 171,000 to 3.334 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.163 million. Economists were forecasting continuing claims of 3.21 million.
The October consumer price index increased 0.1%, as expected; the core CPI rose 0.2%, more than the estimated 0.1% increase.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey improved to -5.2 in November from -6.2 the prior month and came in better than the expected fall to -6.7.
At 10 a.m., the Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook survey is expected to indicate a decline to 2 from 5.7 in October.
The FTSE 100 in London was down by 0.32%, while the DAX in Germany was off 0.5% on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei average finished higher by 1.9% as contractors and exporters got a boost from support coming from Japan's main opposition leader, Shinzo Abe, for public spending and more monetary easing.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid by 1.55%.
Gold for December delivery was down $6.10 at $1,724 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts were falling 11 cents at $86.64.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 6/32, lifting the yield to 1.615%. The dollar was up 0.08%, according to the U.S. dollar index.