UBS economist Maury Harris early on Thursday forecast the unemployment claims number would be little changed and also that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index of regional factory activity would increase to a reading of 5.0 for April from 2.0 in March. A reading above zero indicates expansion. The Philadelphia Fed later announced that the index reading for April was just 1.3. "The indicator for overall activity remained slightly positive this month," the bank said in a statement "but other broad indicators were mixed. Indicators for new orders and employment were weaker this month." The consensus among economists is for the Philadelphia Fed's index of current activity to come in at 3.3.
The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) was down 1% to 54.20, with 17 of the 24 index components showing afternoon declines, including Bank of America ( BAC), which was down over 2% to $11.44, following a 5% decline on Wednesday.