Stock Futures Fall as Jobless Claims Climb

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were falling Thursday after the Labor Department reported a rise in weekly initial jobless claims and investors eyed a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels with caution.

In China, third-quarter gross domestic product rose 7.4% from a year ago, which was as expected by economists surveyed by Reuters. Industrial production and retail sales data for September came in a bit above expectations.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 8 points, or 9 points below fair value, at 13,481. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 3.89 points, or 2.55 points below fair value, at 1453. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 9.50 points, or 8.22 points below fair value, at 2761.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ended Oct. 13 rose by 46,000 to 388,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 342,000. The four-week moving average was 365,500, an increase from the prior week's 364,750.

Continuing claims for the week ended Oct. 6 fell 29,000 to 3.252 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.281 million.

On average, economists were expecting initial jobless claims of 365,000 and continuing claims of 3.275 million.

"After all the confusion between a high current reading and last week's barely revised low level of initial claims the key four-week moving average now stands at 365,500 and we continue to believe that despite the higher than forecast reading the broad labor market is maintaining its forward momentum," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak. "Going forward and using the benchmark four-weekly average, we would say that initial claims will trend towards last week's lower number rather than this week's higher headline level."

The Philly Fed's Business Outlook Survey will be released at 10 a.m. EDT, and is expected to improve to 1 for October from -1.9.

At the same time, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index is expected to show a rise of 0.2% in September after falling 0.1% in August.

The major U.S. equity averages overcame weakness in the tech sector to close in positive territory Wednesday as strength in housing starts prompted a rally in basic materials stocks.

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