Stock Futures Up; Jobless Claims Down

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were rising Thursday following data showing a deeper than expected decline in initial jobless claims last week.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 32 points, or 23.4 points above fair value, at 13,236. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 3.7 points, or 2.8 points above fair value, at 1401, and futures for the Nasdaq were up 8.3 points, or 5.1 points above fair value, at 2736.

On Thursday, the Labor Department said that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims for last week fell 27,000 to 365,000, from an upwardly-revised 392,000 the prior week. It was the largest weekly drop since early May 2011.

"This drop reinforces the view that the recent rise was more a function of seasonality than underlying deterioration in labor conditions," said Eric Green, chief economist at TD Securities, after the report.

The four-week moving average increased 750 to 383,500. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting claims to tick down to 380,000 in the week ended April 28 from the previous estimate of 388,000 for the prior week.

Continuing claims fell 53,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ended April 21.

Thursday's data on jobs precedes the much-anticipated April nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department on Friday, which greatly disappointed last month. The economy added only 120,000 jobs in March, about half the gains posted in each of the previous three months. Economists currently expect a gain of 170,000 for April.

The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index measuring the service industries will be released at 10 a.m. ET Economists estimate the index decelerated to 55.5 in April from 56 in March. Any reading above 50 implies expansion.

It was a mixed finish for stocks Wednesday as investors pondered a disappointing private-sector employment report ahead of Friday's official April jobs data.

In Europe, London's FTSE was rising 0.6% and the DAX in Germany was up 1.2% following a round of solid earnings reports in Europe and ahead of the results of a European Central Bank meeting in Barcelona. The markets will watch for signs from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi of further stimulus measures to help improve the continent's debt situation.

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