Futures Drift Lower Ahead of Economic Data


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U.S. stock futures drifted modestly lower on Thursday morning ahead of a slew of closely-watched economic data releases.

Today's Markets

As of 8:05 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 26 points to 11,577, S&P 500 futures dipped 3.8 points to 1,214 and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 2.8 points to 2,238.

The stalling economic recovery has taken the spotlight as one of Wall Street's key concern's. Indeed, there is a deluge of important economic data on tap for Thursday morning.

Weekly jobless claims are expected to have ticked lower to 410,000 from 417,000 in the prior week.  Claims have been hovering about the 400,000-level for several weeks, which many economists have seen as a sign that recovery in the labor market is not as robust as was anticipated months ago.

This report comes ahead of the closely-watched monthly employment situation, slated for release on Friday, which is expected to show the unemployment rate sticking above 9%, with the economy tacking on fewer than 100,000 jobs in August.

The Institute for Supply Management's gauge of manufacturing is expected show the sector contracted slightly in August, after barely expanding in July.  Manufacturing reports, on the whole, have shown a considerable weakening in the last several months, adding another layer of concern for the broader economy.

A report on construction spending is also on tap for later in the morning, which is expected to show a 0.3% increase in July.

Automakers will report monthly sales figures throughout the day on Thursday. The auto industry had been particularly affected by the earthquake and tsunami that slammed Japan in March, because it sparked a slew of issues throughout main company's supply chains that often rely on Japan for electronic parts, and has been recovering.

Many retailers, such as Macy's (NYSE:M), also report monthly same-store-sales on Thursday.

Energy futures were modestly lower, pressured by a gaining greenback.  The U.S. dollar climbed 0.44% against a basket of world currencies, while the euro fell 0.77% against the dollar.

Light, sweet crude dipped 16 cents, or 0.19%, to $88.65 a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline slumped a penny, or 0.34%, to $2.87 a gallon.

Gold slipped $6.00, or 0.17%, to $1,825 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 dipped 0.23% to 5,382, the French CAC 40 fell 0.66% to 3,235 and the German DAX slipped 1.4% to 5,707.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 jumped 1.2% to 9,061 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged higher by 0.25% to 20,585.