NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures flattened Thursday after initial weekly jobless claims jumped to a much higher than expected level of 454,000. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 2 points, or more than 2 points below fair value, at 11,934. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 2 points, or 1 point below fair value, at 1,292, and Nasdaq futures were off by half of a point, or 6 points above fair value. Initial weekly jobless claims jumped by 51,000 to the highest level since October at 454,000, according to the Labor Department's report for the week ended Jan. 22. Economists had been expecting a slight increase to 410,000, according to Briefing.com.
The Department of Commerce said durable goods orders unexpectedly dropped 2.5% in December, after slipping 0.3% in November. According to Briefing.com, economists had forecast an increase of 1.5%. Excluding transportation, orders grew by 0.5%, which was largely in line with the 0.6% uptick that the market anticipated. In November, orders, excluding transportation, rose by 2.4% in the prior month. The Dow did hit the psychologically important 12,000 level earlier on Wednesday for the first time since June 2008, shortly after a 17.5% jump in December new-home sales. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3% while Japan's Nikkei gained 0.7%. London's FTSE was up 0.2% and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.5%. Standard & Poor's cut Japan's credit rating to AA- from AA, citing concerns about the country's ability to pay its growing debt. At 10 a.m., the market will get data on November pending home sales. According to Briefing.com, sales are expected to decline by 0.5% after previous growth of 3.5%. Shares of Caterpillar ( CAT) were up 2.3% to $97.85 during the premarket session after the company easily topped analysts' estimates for a fourth-quarter profit of $1.27 a share with
earnings of $1.47 a share. The company said sales jumped 62% to $12.81 billion, exceeding estimates for sales of $11.63 billion. Eli Lilly ( LLY) saw its stock gain 0.9% at $35.25 during the premarket session after the pharmaceutical company reported a 28% jump in net income as higher volumes led to a sales boost of 4%.
Shares of AT&T ( T) were off by 3% at $27.90 after the company reported a 60.1% drop in fourth-quarter net income although
adjusted earnings of 55 cents a share topped analysts' estimates by a penny. Sales rose 2.1% to $31.36 billion, compared with the $31.47 billion in revenue that Wall Street had forecast. Shares of Procter & Gamble ( PG) were down 2.4% to $64.50 in early trading after the company said second-quarter core earnings were $1.13 a share and sales grew 2% to $21.4 billion. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.10 a share on sales of $21.6 billion. Shares of Netflix ( ACI) were up 12.7% to $206.10 ahead of Thursday's opening bell after the company reported better-than-expected earnings late Wednesday and said subscribers soared past the 20-million mark for the first time. In commodity markets, the March crude oil contract was trading 66 cents lower at $86.67 a barrel. The February gold contract was up by $2.60 to trade at $1,335.60 an ounce. The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.1%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 9/32, lifting the yield to 3.454%. . --Written by Melinda Peer in New York.