Futures Point to Lower Open Ahead of Weekly Jobs Data

Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stock futures looked to a lower open for the market Thursday, ahead of quarterly results from Morgan Stanley, a speech on monetary policy by a Federal Reserve official, and a weekly labor-market update.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU4) fell 29 points, or 0.1%, to 17,027, while those for the S&P 500 index (SPU4) shed 8 points, or 0.%, to 1,966. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDU4) gave up 14 points, or 0.3%, to 3,909.

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While the ongoing corporate earnings season will be a main focus for investors Thursday, attention is turning again to Ukraine tensions, after the U.S. and the EU each revealed fresh sanctions against Russia.

Ahead of the bell, results will come from banking-industry heavyweight Morgan Stanley (MS) . Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect second-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, up from 45 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

Morgan Stanley, like its rivals, looks poised to report a decline in revenue from trading in fixed income, currencies and commodities, because of low volumes and volatility during the quarter.

In pre-market trade, shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH) climbed 3.3% after the largest health insurer in the U.S. reported better-than-expected second-quarter results. It also raised its 2014 revenue projection.

The months-long crisis in Ukraine looks to be returning as a focus for investors, after the U.S. unveiled a new round of sanctions against Russia, targeting companies such as oil giant Rosneft and Gazprombank ONO. European stocks broadly fell after the announcement, and Russian stocks and the ruble dropped sharply. Read: Russian stocks pounded after U.S. imposes new sanctions.

Investors will also monitor comments from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who is slated to speak in Kentucky about monetary policy at 1:35 p.m. Eastern Time. Bullard said in a Bloomberg interview last week that a continued decline in U.S. unemployment could push inflation above the Fed's 2% target by the end of 2015. Bullard isn't a voting member of the Fed's policy-making committee.

The Labor Department will release data on weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits is expected to rise to 310,000 for the week ended July 12, according to economists polled by MarketWatch. Last week, claims fell to a nearly seven-year low.

The Commerce Department's report on June housing starts is due at the same time. Economists expect the seasonally adjusted annual rate to have hit 1.02 million units. Economists say about 1.7 million starts are needed each year to maintain current stock and meet demand for replacement and second homes.

A July reading on activity among regional manufacturers is slated for release at 10 a.m. Eastern by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Economists expect to see the result weaken to 16.5 from 17.8 in June, which was the highest level since September.

Individual stocks that may be active Thursday include SanDisk (SNDK) . Shares fell about 10% in low volume ahead of the market open after the flash-memory maker's third-quarter revenue forecast was lighter than anticipated.

EBay (EBAY) late Wednesday said second-quarter adjusted earnings were 69 cents a share, on revenue of $4.4 billion, in line with analyst expectations. Shares of the e-commerce company rose more than 1% in after hours trading.

Blackstone Group (BX) shares rose more than 8% premarket after Spanish lender Catalunya Banc said it's selling a loan portfolio worth 6.39 billion euros ($8.64 billion) to the group.

Software company SAP (SAP) raised its full-year revenue outlook for cloud applications. However, its second-quarter profit fell because of provisions from patent litigation.

After trading closes Thursday, Google (GOOG) is expected to post earnings of $6.25 a share on revenue of $12.3 billion. Read NEED TO KNOW: Janet Yellen might disagree, but Amazon tapped as screaming buy.

In the commodities market, August crude-oil futures (CLQ4) rose about $1 to $102.18 a barrel, and gold futures (GCQ4) picked up $3 to $1,303 an ounce.

Asian stocks overnight closed mixed, with Japan's Nikkei Average down 0.1%.