Stock Futures Fall as Oil Surges

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures pointed to a lower open Thursday despite better-than-expected initial jobless claims as investors feared that climbing oil prices could derail the economic recovery.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 39 points, or 30 points below fair value, at 12,055. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 6 points, or 7 points below fair value, at 1,299, and Nasdaq futures were off by 10 points, or 17 points below fair value.

Stocks saw a steep selloff for the second consecutive session on Wednesday. Crude oil prices briefly hit $100 a barrel as continued violence in Libya heightened concerns that turmoil would spread to major oil producers in the Middle East.

Oil is trading above the $100 mark for the first time since 2008 as violence in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, creates concerns about continued oil production disruptions in the North African country. Libya has the most oil reserves in Africa and although it is only the world's 15th-largest exporter, investors are concerned that political unrest could spread to major oil producers , such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Crude oil for April delivery was trading $2.29 higher at $100.39 a barrel.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.3% and Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.2%. London's FTSE was shedding 0.4% and the DAX in Frankfurt was off by 1.2%.

Initial weekly jobless claims shed 22,000 to 391,000 in the week ended Feb. 19, beating expectations that the level would remain unchanged at 410,000, according to Briefing.com.

The Department of Commerce said durable goods orders rose 2.7% in January, meeting expectations, after slipping 0.4% in December. Excluding transportation, orders fell 3.6%, which was much lower than the 0.6% uptick that economists had projected, according to Briefing.com. In December, orders, excluding transportation, rose by 3%.

Shares of Priceline.com ( PCLN) were trading 6.4% higher at $453.21 ahead of Thursday's opening bell after the online travel company reported better-than-expected earnings on stronger bookings late Wednesday.

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