Stocks Headed for Early Pullback

The U.S. market will likely open to the downside Thursday.
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Premarket futures were suggesting a negative open Thursday, as traders awaited a broad slate of economic-data releases.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were down 5.5 points at 1270 and were 5.3 points short of fair value.

Nasdaq

futures were lower by 8.8 points at 1826 and were 9.3 points below fair value.

On Wednesday, bulls failed to gain traction despite declines in the price of crude oil. Also, the

Federal Reserve's

beige book showed the economy would remain slow even as inflation fears subsided.

The new day's docket included a hefty serving of additional economic information. Automatic Data Processing's August employment figures are due out. The Department of Labor will release jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 30 in addition to its second-quarter productivity calculations. Also expected are the Institute for Supply Management's nonmanufacturing survey and weekly oil inventories from the Energy Information Administration.

The Bank of England and the European Central Bank were having rate meetings, and already the ECB has left its key rate unchanged. Traders will be eying those decisions for insight into the dollar's prospects.

In company news,

Bloomberg

reported that

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

faces difficulties as it tries to sell parts of its loan portfolio to Korea Asset Management Corp.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

averted a strike by its largest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The union had voted to strike after negotiations for a new three-year contract failed, but federal mediators brokered a 48-hour postponement of the walkout.

As to earnings, after the close Wednesday tax-services provider

H&R Block

(HRB) - Get Report

announced a narrowed quarterly loss. Homebuilder

Hovnanian

(HOV) - Get Report

reported a loss that was wider than a year ago.

Fellow construction firm

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

is due to report earnings ahead of the new day's open.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was up 75 cents at $110.10 a barrel, and gold was gaining $5.20 at $813.40 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasuries were mixed. The 10-year was flat in price, yielding 3.7%, and the 30-year was down 8/32 to yield 4.33%. The dollar was gaining on the yen, even vs. the euro and slipping against the pound.

Major global exchanges, with the exception of the FTSE in London, were mostly trading lower.