Futures Dip on Higher Jobless Claims

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures pointed to a lower open Thursday after initial weekly jobless claims rose by more than expected to 445,000.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 16 points, or 8 points below fair value, at 11,692. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 2 points, or nearly half of a point below fair value, at 1,282, and Nasdaq futures were off by 2 points, or nearly half of a point below fair value.

Stocks rallied Wednesday as a successful Portuguese debt auction lifted market sentiment.

The Labor Department said initial weekly jobless claims rose by 35,000 to 445,000 in the week ended Jan. 8, from 410,000, previously. The level was much higher than expected, although market estimates varied from a slight increase to a modest decrease. According to Briefing.com, economists had been expecting an increase of 6,000 to 415,000, from an initially reported level of 409,000.

Earlier, both Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's warned that high debt levels could affect the U.S.'s credit rating. The U.S. currently holds a triple-A rating with a stable outlook.

South Korea raised key interest rates to help curb inflation, while the Bank of England held rates at 0.5%. The European Central Bank also kept rates unchanged, at 1%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5% and Japan's Nikkei gained 0.7%. London's FTSE was shedding 0.3% and the DAX in Frankfurt was down by 0.07%.

The Labor Department also said producer prices rose 1.1% in December after gaining 0.8% in November. Wall Street had been projecting an increase of 0.8%, according to Briefing.com. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core rate rose 0.2%, as expected, after growth of 0.3% in November.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $38.3 billion in November, from $38.7 billion, previously. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $41 billion.

Marathon Oil ( MRO) said it is moving forward with plans to spin off its refining and sales business, creating two independent energy companies. Shares were up 10.4% to $44.79 ahead of Thursday's opening bell.

Shares of Infosys Technologies ( INFY) were down 4.8% at $73 in premarket trading after third-quarter earnings missed expectations despite rising 14.2% to 17.80 billion rupees ($396 million). Analysts had been expecting earnings of 18.2 billion rupees.

Williams-Sonoma ( WSM) saw its stock gain 1.2% to $34.60 in early trading after the specialty home products retailer hiked its fourth-quarter earnings and sales guidance on strong holiday sales.

Intel ( INTC) is slated to release fourth-quarter results after the close. According to Briefing.com, analysts expect earnings of 53 cents a share. Intel's stock was up 0.08% to $21.32.

In commodity markets, the February crude oil contract was unchanged at $91.86 a barrel. The February gold contract was down by $3.90 to trade at $1,381.90 an ounce.

The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.2%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 4/32, diluting the yield to 3.357%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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