) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing lower Thursday on weak trade figures from Japan and a contraction in factory output in China.

European stocks were falling, while Asian shares finished Thursday's trading session with losses. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 1.6% to close at 9,086.98.

Japanese exports in August fell 5.8% from a year earlier, and a private survey of manufacturers in China showed that activity dropped again in September.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Philadelphia Fed regional manufacturing activity survey for September at 10 a.m., and leading indicators for August at 10 a.m.

U.S. stocks on Wednesday finished with slight gains, buoyed by another batch of encouraging housing data and an unexpected easing of monetary policy by Japan's central bank.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

closed up 13 points, or 0.10%, to end at 13,578. The index is up more than 11% year to date.

Bank of America

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has set a target of cutting 16,000 jobs by the end of 2012 as it accelerates a broad cost-cutting plan,

The Wall Street Journal


The job cuts were outlined in a document given to top management, and are part of a larger effort to retool the bank into a leaner and more focused enterprise amid an environment of declining revenue.


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is expected to report its fiscal first-quarter results after Thursday's closing bell and analysts expect the software maker to post a profit of 53 cents a share in the August-ended period on revenue of $8.42 billion.

Adobe Systems

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, the publishing and design software developer, posted an in-line profit Wednesday for its fiscal third quarter but revenue of $1.081 billion was below the consensus view of $1.103 billion.

For its fourth quarter ending in November, Adobe forecast non-GAAP earnings of 53 cents to 58 cents a share, far short of the average analysts' view for a profit of 67 cents a share.


Norfolk Southern

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said Wednesday its third-quarter earnings would be lower than a year earlier amid weaker shipments of coal and merchandise.

The earnings docket Thursday includes


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ConAgra Foods

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Rite Aid

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Cintas Corp.

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TIBCO Software



British Sky Broadcasting

is a "fit and proper" company to hold an operating license, U.K. regulators said Thursday in response to the phone hacking scandal that engulfed parent company

News Corp.

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-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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