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Market Hustle: Stock Futures Edge Lower as Jobless Claims Rise

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were turning slightly lower Thursday as investors digested an increase in jobless claims.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 4 points, or 5.84 points below fair value, to 16,507, while the S&P 500 futures were down 0.25 points, or 0.35 points below fair value, to 1,877.75. The Nasdaq futures were up 6.5 points, or 6.28 points above fair value, to 3,579.8.
  • Jobless claims for the week of April 26 increased 14,000 to 344,000 vs. the average economist's estimate of 320,000. The four-week moving average ticked up by 3,000. March personal income rose 0.5% vs. the expected 0.4%. Personal spending increased 0.9% vs. the estimate of 0.6%.
  • Thursday's full economic roster also includes the Markit PMI manufacturing flash index for April at 9:45 a.m. EDT, the ISM Manufacturing Index for April at 10 a.m., and March construction spending at 10 a.m.
  • Clues on employment conditions in April will be drawn especially from the ISM Manufacturing Index ahead of the monthly employment report scheduled for Friday. The employment index portion of the report is expected by economists to increase to 52.8 from 51.1.
  • Automakers, including General Motors (GM) and Ford (F), are expected to report sales for April throughout the day. Ford is expected to hold a news conference at 9 a.m. to announce chief operating officer Mark Fields as the new CEO.
  • Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen was expected to give a speech to the Independent Community Bankers of America in Washington starting at 8:30 a.m.
  • Exxon (XOM - Get Report) was gaining 0.73% in premarket trading after reporting first-quarter earnings of $2.10 a share vs. the average analyst estimate of $1.88 a share. MasterCard (MA - Get Report) was adding on more than 1% after posting first-quarter EPS of 73 cents vs. expectations of 72 cents.
  • Stocks closed higher Wednesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve pledged to hold rates for a considerable time after it ends its economic stimulus program, offsetting weaker-than-expected economic growth data. The markets have also been getting a boost from improved first-quarter earnings growth expectations.
  • From a technical perspective, the S&P 500 index has regained its footing after holding above the 1,850 level, according to Sam Stovall, S&P Capital IQ managing director of U.S. equity strategy. "Like an over-tired toddler resisting a nap, the S&P 500 continues to fight rather than surrender to the exhaustive callings of an overdue correction," Stovall said in a note. He said the major indices have also been encouraged by a rebound in S&P 500 first-quarter EPS growth expectations, now at 1.7% vs. the earlier estimate of a 1.2% decline.
  • The FTSE 100 in the U.K. was up 0.25% as the majority of European markets were closed for the May Day holiday.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

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