Futures Trim Losses Amid Mixed Data


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U.S. stock-index futures pared early losses as traders made sense of a mixed batch of data on the American economy and kept a close eye on turmoil in Europe and the Middle East.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:44 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 41 points to 14820, S&P 500 futures dropped 5.3 points to 1602 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 7 points to 2916.

Traders had a flood of data to parse through Wednesday.

The American private sector added 188,000 jobs in June, according to payroll processor ADP. The gain is considerably larger than the 160,000 economists expected.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the number of individuals applying for first-time jobs benefits fell to 343,000 last week from an upwardly revised 348,00 the week prior. Economists expected claims to fall to 345,000 from an initially reported 346,000. The report comes a day early this week as a result of the Independence Day holiday.

Planned layoffs by U.S. employers rose 8.2% in June from May to 39,372, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.The labor market is still only slowly recovering from the financial crisis, and is a significant focus among economists. The Federal Reserve has also said it will tie future interest rate moves to the unemployment rate, so the data have taken on even more significance.

The Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit widened to $45 billion in May from $40.2 billion in April. Economists expected the gap to fall to $40.1 billion. While the number is a lagging indicator, it figures directly into second-quarter gross domestic product readings. The greater the deficit, the more it detracts from GDP.

Finally, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing PMI is anticipated to come in at 54 in June from 53.7 the month before. That would indicate the services sector expanded at a slightly swifter pace during the course of the month.

Bourses across Europe and Asia took a thrashing on the day as a confluence of factors struck nearly simultaneously.

Fresh political instability in Portugal threatened to once again derail efforts by eurozone authorities to keep the 17-member currency bloc's crisis under control. The country's Foreign and Finance Ministers both resigned on Tuesday, and two more department heads were set to resign Wednesday, according to a report by Reuters.

That pushed Portugal's 10-year bond yields above the 8% mark for the first time since November, although, they receded to 7.6% in recent trading. The country's benchmark stock-market index was down close to 5%, while the considerably larger German markets were down about 2%.

Another concern for traders were oil prices, that have pushed sharply higher in recent days amid turmoil in Egypt. The benchmark U.S. contract recently jumped $1.79, or 1.8%, to $101.40 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rallied 1.1% to $2.813 a gallon.

In metals, gold rose $11.30, or 0.91%, to $1,255 a troy ounce.

U.S. markets close at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday ahead of the Independent Day holiday. Traders said light volume could lead to increased volatility, as was seen in Tuesday's session.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 tumbled 1.9% to 2553, the English FTSE 100 sold off by 1.6% to 6204 and the German DAX plunged 1.6% to 7781.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dipped 0.31% to 14056 and the Chinese hang Seng nose dived 2.5% to 20147.

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