Stock futures are mixed on Thursday as investors held out for a rush of manufacturing data before Friday's nonfarm payrolls report.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.06%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures edged slightly higher, and Nasdaq futures slid 0.15%.
Initial jobless claims rose in the past week, though remained at multi-year lows. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 17,000 to 268,000 in the week ended Nov. 26, according to the Labor Department. Analysts had anticipated a reading of 255,000. The less-volatile, four-week average climbed 500 to 251,500.
Other economic data to be released Thursday include the PMI Manufacturing Index and ISM Manufacturing Index for November and construction spending for October.
The U.S. jobs report for November, one of the most closely watched pieces of data of the month, will be under an even more intense spotlight on Friday as investors look for confirmation the Federal Reserve will pull the trigger on interest rates at their December meeting. Economists anticipate 180,000 jobs to have been added to the U.S. economy in November and for the unemployment rate to hold at 4.9%.
"Another healthy report reflecting job growth near its recent trend (175k-195k) will give the Fed added comfort to lift rates in December, though the bar for a rate move is low in our view and any print at or above the break-even pace (roughly 100k) is likely sufficient," TD Securities analysts wrote in a note.
The U.S. economy added 161,000 jobs in October, 10,000 short of estimates but generally showcasing robust workforce trends. Average hourly earnings also rose to their highest since July, while year-over-year earnings increased to their best since 2009.
A rate hike in December has a high probability among Wall Street pundits as the labor market continues to exhibit strength and inflation trends towards the Fed's 2% target rate. The chances of a December rate hike sit at more than 95%, according to CME Group fed funds futures.
Crude oil rose Thursday morning on continued goodwill over a production freeze agreement among major oil-producing nations. On Wednesday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reached an agreement to trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day. OPEC currently produces 33.6 million barrels a day, a record high. The deal hinges on non-OPEC producers committing to reduce output by 600,000 barrels a day, half of which Russia has reportedly already agreed to deliver. The cut is OPEC's first since 2008.
West Texas Intermediate crude was up 1.9% to $50.39 a barrel.
Express (EXPR) tumbled more than 10% in premarket trading after issuing guidance for its current quarter weaker than analysts anticipated. The apparel retailer anticipates fourth-quarter earnings no higher than 30 cents a share, sharply lower than analysts' estimates of 54 cents. Same-store sales are targeted to fall in the "negative low double digits" percentage range, sharper than a forecast 7.6% decline.
Guess? (GES) slumped 13% after reducing its full-year profit target following a disappointing recent quarter. The retailer reported quarterly revenue rose 2.9% to $536 million, below its previous guidance of 5% to 8% growth. Same-store sales fell 4.9%, accelerating from a 4.2% drop a quarter earlier. Guess? now anticipates adjusted earnings between 42 cents and 52 cents a share for its January-ending fiscal year. It had previously targeted adjusted earnings of 62 cents to 75 cents a share.
Dollar General (DG) tumbled 7% after reporting disappointing same-store sales and earnings for its recent quarter. The discount retailer reported a 0.1% decline in same-store sales, below an expected increase of 0.8%. The company said a weaker quarterly performance was tied to reductions in food-stamp benefits.
Parker Hannifin (PH) agreed to purchase filtration-systems company Clarcor (CLC) in a deal worth around $4 billion. Parker agreed to pay $83 for each Clarcor share outstanding, an 18% premium to the closing price Wednesday of Clarcor. The deal is expected to close during the September-ending quarter next year. Clarcor shares jumped 16% in premarket trading to $82.08.