Stock futures edged lower on Thursday as weekly jobless claims fell ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs report.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.24%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slid 0.23%, and Nasdaq futures dropped 0.2%.
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits declined 5,000 to 249,000 in the week ended Oct. 1. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 2,500 to 253,500, hitting its lowest level since 1973.
The jobs report for September, a snapshot of the labor market, has gained outsized significance for what it might mean for the Federal Reserve come December. Economists anticipate roughly 170,000 jobs to have been added to the U.S. economy in September, strong enough to signal a robust labor market. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 4.9%.
"We see few surprises that would derail the Fed's assessment of the labor market," said BNP Paribas analysts. "We expect the September report to confirm the Fed's view that the labor market is on solid footing and maintain our base-case scenario of a December rate hike."
A rate hike in December currently has a 55% likelihood, according to CME Group fed funds futures. Chances of a year-end hike increased after the Federal Open Market Committee punted on a September rise and said the case for a hike has strengthened.
Crude oil prices stabilized on Thursday after a rally a day earlier that pushed prices to their highest level in three months. Crude rallied after a weekly reading saw a fifth week of declines, bringing relief over domestic supply glut worries.
West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.1% to $49.90 a barrel on Thursday.
Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) tumbled 15.8% in premarket trading on reports Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Google and Walt Disney (DIS - Get Report) would not make a bid for the social network. The companies, previously interested in Twitter, pulled out of the bidding process, according to Recode. The company is reportedly taking bids this week with Salesforce.com (CRM - Get Report) , a frontrunner for an acquisition.
Insurance companies including Allstate (ALL - Get Report) , Loews (L - Get Report) and Progressive (PGR - Get Report) were on watch as Hurricane Matthew approached the southern East Coast of the U.S. The hurricane is expected to strengthen to a category 4 storm as it approaches the coast late Thursday through to Friday night.
Walmart (WMT - Get Report) fell 1.8% on Thursday morning after affirming fiscal 2017 earnings guidance and projecting "relatively flat" profit growth in fiscal 2018. The world's largest retailer anticipates full-year profit no higher than $4.35 a share, compared to consensus of $4.34. The company also expects to open 130 U.S. stores in fiscal 2017, slowing to 55 stores in 2018.
Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) dropped 2.8% after third-quarter profit and sales fell short of analysts' estimates. The owner of KFC and Taco Bell earned an adjusted $1.09 a share, a penny below estimates, while revenue of $3.32 billion came in short of $3.49 billion consensus.
Alynylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY) slumped 44.8% in premarket trading after announcing plans to stop development of its revusiran drug. Revusiran was being developed to treat hereditary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, a rare disease that can cause heart failure. A late-stage study had found the death rate of patients treated with the drug was higher than those taking a placebo.