Stock Futures Slide on Weak Jobs Data

New labor and payroll data add to negative pre-bell sentiment.
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Updated from 7:58 a.m. EDT

Premarket futures were suggesting a negative open Thursday, as traders mulled economic reports that indicated a tough jobs market.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were down 4.2 points at 1271 and were 4 points short of fair value.

Nasdaq

futures were lower by 7.8 points at 1827 and were 8.3 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 indicated 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 showed private payrolls down 33,000, a slightly wider decline than estimates. The Department of Labor's jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 30 came in at 444,000, higher than expectations for 420,000 new claims.

The Labor Department's second-quarter productivity calculations registered at 4.3%, ahead of estimates of 3.5% and up from 2.2% in the first quarter. Due out later are the Institute for Supply Management's nonmanufacturing survey and weekly oil inventories from the Energy Information Administration.

Following the close of their respective rate meetings, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank both announced they would leave their key interest rates unchanged.

In company news, a slew of retailers reported same-store sales for August.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

showed improved sales that beat estimates, while specialty retailers such as

Wet Seal

(WTSLA)

and

Limited

(LTD)

reported declines in same-store stales.

Elsewhere,

Bloomberg

reported that

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

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

Also dealing with hard-to-value assets, insurance giant

AIG

(AIG) - Get Report

is considering forming a new company to get rid of its mortgage-related securities, according to a report in

The New York Post

.

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

likewise had bad news, swinging to a third-quarter loss on falling revenue stemming from the ongoing housing crisis.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was up 55 cents at $109.90 a barrel, and gold was gaining $6.30 at $814.50 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasuries were edging higher. The 10-year was up 8/32, yielding 3.67%, and the 30-year was adding 10/32 to yield 4.3%. The dollar was gaining on the yen and the euro but slipping against the pound.

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