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Jobless Claims Rise Cools Stock Futures

Tickers in this article: CCL CPWR FB GOOG ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were trimming gains Thursday on sobering U.S. labor market news that underscored the fragility of the economic recovery.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 1.25 points, or 2.11 points above fair value, to 1,549.75. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 9 points, or 21.65 points above fair value, at 14,496. Futures for the Nasdaq were down by 0.5 points, or 1.39 points below fair value, at 2,786.5.

U.S. stocks fell the most in five weeks Wednesday as a convergence of sluggish job creation, slow service sector growth and international conflict sent crude tumbling along with energy stocks.

Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ in Manhattan, cautioned that the rise in stocks in preceding sessions to fresh highs does not necessarily point to all-around strength in the underlying sectors.

"The defensive sectors within the S&P 500 have been the group of choice for reluctant investors grudgingly reentering the equity market, who at the same time have been in search of yields to serve as bond substitutes," he noted in a Wednesday evening report.

"From a technical perspective, over the past couple of weeks, the stock market has weakened below the surface, which many times foretells trouble for the majors," he added.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to a four-month high of 385,000 in the week ended Mar. 30 from 357,000 in the prior week. Economists were expecting a dip to 350,000. The four-week moving average smoothing out week-to-week volatility to provide a more accurate longer-term picture meanwhile increased by 11,250.

The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits however fell by 8,000 in the week ended Mar. 23.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Grey & Christmas said that planned corporate job cuts fell 11% in March, but that quarterly job cuts reached their highest level since 2011 led by retailers in March, and included sequester-related government job cuts.

The dollar was rising 0.73% to $83.323 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 3/32, bringing the yield up to 1.824%.

May crude oil futures were up a penny to $94.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold for June delivery was plunging $10.30 to $1,543.20 an ounce, failing to benefit from any recent weaknesses in stocks.

The DAX in Germany was up 0.46% after the European Central Bank opted to keep its benchmark interest rates at record lows and ECB President Mario Draghi said policy will stay accommodative for as long as needed.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan finished ahead by 2.2% after the Bank of Japan announced aggressive monetary easing, increasing its Japanese government bond purchases to about 7 trillion yen each month from the current pace of approximately 4 trillion yen a month.