After the Dow dropped 998 points intraday -- the most in the history of the blue-chip index, before closing down 348 -- the market faces issues such as the jobs report, Greek debt fears and European elections.
A day before the U.S. government is scheduled to release its April nonfarm payrolls report, investors began digesting the Labor Department's initial jobless claims data for the week ended May 1. The government said new filers edged lower last week by 7,000 to 444,000. Economists were expecting claims to dip to 440,000, from the 448,000 pre-revised tally, according to consensus figures provided by Briefing.com. For Friday's report, economists are projecting April job growth of 187,000 after March's increase of 162,000 jobs. But Delta Global's Pento said there's a strong chance the market will not see a lift from tomorrow's jobs news because of the European overhang. The government also said productivity climbed up at a seasonally adjusted 3.6% annual clip in the first quarter, though consensus estimates were looking for a 2.4% increase. The rise is slightly off the revised 6.3% gain in the fourth quarter. Retail same-store sales data for April came in largely below predictions. According to a gauge from TheStreet, 16 of 26 retailers missed expectations. Costco ( COST), Nordstrom ( JWN), Macy's ( M) and Limited Brands were some of the better performing concerns in the tracker, though teen retailer Hot Topic ( HOTT) and Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) posted more lackluster results. Abercrombie shares tumbled 8.6%, while Hot Topic shed 8.5%. The Energy Information Administration said natural gas storage levels in the lower 48 states saw an injection of 83 billion cubic feet for the week ending April 30. The tally landed at the upper end of an estimate range offered by Platts saying analysts estimated an additional 80 to 84 billion cubic feet to natural gas stocks. Stocks now stand at 1.995 trillion cubic feet, which is 5.1% above the year-ago level and 18.8% ahead of the 5-year average. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke in Chicago in the morning where he discussed lessons learned from the bank stress test program one year ago.