Futures Slip as Economy Shifts Back Into Focus


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U.S. stock-index futures fell mildly on Thursday after Wall Street surged in the previous session as traders once again began focusing on economic reports.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 6 points to 13323, S&P 500 futures dipped 0.25 point to 1457 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.25 point to 2739.

The markets posted a big rally to kick off the new year on Wednesday as traders cheered a long-awaited fiscal cliff agreement in Congress. Indeed, the broad S&P 500 closed at its highest level since September.

With the saga in Washington over for the moment, traders will get a chance to mull a handful of important economic reports on the day.

The ADP national employment report showed the private sector added 215,000 jobs in December. Analysts had expected an increase of 133,000 jobs for the month. Another report on the labor market from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed planned layoffs at U.S. firms plunged 43% in December from the month before to 32,556. The Labor Department said the number of individuals applying for first-time jobless benefits last week climbed by 10,000 to 372,000.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its December meeting. While economists always pay close attention to where the central bank sees the economy going and what its plans are on monetary policy, some of the information may be outdated given the recent passage of fiscal legislation in Congress.

The all-important monthly jobs report from the Labor Department is on tap for Friday. Economists expect the U.S. economy to have tacked on 150,000 jobs in December, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.7%.

Commodities were little changed. The benchmark crude oil contract fell 39 cents, or 0.41%, to $92.74 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell 0.01% to $2.795 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $9.40, or 0.56% to $1,679 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.62% to 2695, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.03% to 6025 and the German DAX slumped 0.34% to 7752.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 jumped 0.7% to 10395 and the Chinese Hang Seng rose 0.37% to 23398.