Futures Flat Ahead of Jobless Claims, GDP Revision

Dow Jones Newswires

Major indexes looked set to struggle to break a string of losses on Thursday, with stock futures hugging the flat line ahead of weekly jobless claims, a revised reading on economic growth and a meeting of the European Central Bank.

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Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. (JOSB) is among those reporting results early. Same-store sales are due from Gap Inc. and others. Apple Inc. (AAPL) was gaining in premarket on reports it has reached a deal with China Mobile Ltd. (0941.HK, CHL) to sell iPhones in China.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11 points to 15,875, while those for the S&P 500 index eased 0.6 point to 1,791.20. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index rose 4.25 points to 3,486.75.

First up in packed day, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart is due to deliver at speech at 8:15 a.m. EST.

Ahead of Friday's highly anticipated monthly jobs report, weekly jobless claims will be released at 8:30 a.m.

The S&P 500 and the Dow industrials dropped for a fourth straight session on Wednesday after a report from Automatic Data Processing revealed November private-sector hiring was the strongest in a year. Economists use this data to gauge how the bigger payrolls numbers will turn out.

"It is interesting to see a number of economists ratchet up their forecasts for Friday's non-farms given the strength in the ADP report, although consensus has only moved up 3,000--to 185,000," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, in an emailed note.

"It seems the risks are weighted now to the upside, despite the employment subcomponent of the U.S. services ISM expanding at a slower pace from last month, and the market should position for such," Weston said. "We're likely to hear 'whisper numbers' closer to 200,000 today and tomorrow."

Also at 8:30 a.m. EST, gross domestic product growth for the third quarter is expected to be revised to 3.2% from a prior 2.8%, according to economists polled. Factory orders for October will be released at 10 a.m. EST.

Mixed in between U.S. data will be monetary-policy decisions from the Bank of England at 7 a.m. EST and the ECB at 7:45 a.m. Neither central bank is broadly seen making any moves; the ECB last month cut its key lending rate to a record low 0.25%. ECB President Mario Draghi's news conference will be watched closely by investors and gets under way at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Europe stocks traded in tight ranges ahead of that meeting, while in Asia, stocks largely tracked Wall Street lower. Gold was also pushing lower, while oil rose and the dollar strengthened.

Among individual stocks, shares of Apple rose over 1% in thin premarket trade on a report China Mobile has signed a deal with the U.S. company to offer iPhones on its network. China Mobile is one of the world's last big carriers that doesn't offer the iPhone.

Jos. A. Bank reported third-quarter earnings of 49 cents a share. Dollar General Corp. (DG) is set to post third-quarter earnings of 70 cents a share.