Jobs Data Weigh on Stock Futures

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U.S. stock-index futures pulled back on Thursday after a strong showing in the last session as traders digested a weaker-than-expected reading on the jobs market and disappointing earnings from oil giant ExxonMobil.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 29 points to 13012, S&P 500 futures slipped 4.2 points to 1383 and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 6 points to 2699.

The Nasdaq posted its best performance of the year on Wednesday, rallying 2.3%, on the back of strong earnings from technology titan Apple. The sentiment across trading desks was more cautious on the day as traders awaited fresh information on the U.S. economy.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 388,000 last week from an upwardly revised 389,000 the week prior, the Labor Department reported. Economists were expecting a drop to 375,000 from an initially reported 386,000. The four-week moving average, which helps smooth out volatility, rose to 381,750 -- the highest level seen since January 7.

The weekly read has been rising slowly recently, raising concerns over the strength of the jobs market. However, the report from the Labor Department can be volatile, and is often subject to substantial revisions.

Later in the morning, Wall Street will get data on the housing market. Pending home sales, which are a forward-looking indicator, may have climbed 1% in March from the month before. The real estate market is still struggling to recover from the downturn in 2008.

Several major companies posted earnings on the day.

ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) revealed a first-quarter profit of $2.00 a share, weaker than the $2.09 analysts expected. The biggest U.S. oil company’s revenue came in at $124.05 billion, also shy of the $124.76 billion forecast.

United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) posted first-quarter earnings of $1.00 a share on sales of $13.1 billion, missing estimates of $1.02 a share on $13.26 billion. The world’s biggest package delivery company also reaffirmed its full-year profit outlook of $4.75 to $5 a share.

In Europe, a survey by the European Commission on confidence across the eurozone fell to the weakest level in April in more than a year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many countries in the 17-member currency bloc have struggled to balance the need to cut sovereign debt by implementing tough austerity measures with the need to keep fragile economies afloat.

Commodities were little changed. Oil traded in New York rose 2 cents, or 0.02%, to $104.14 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gained 0.09% to $3.16 a gallon.

In metals, gold jumped $8.60, or 0.52%, to $1,651 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips slipped 0.56%, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.14% to 5727 and the German DAX fell 0.23% to 6689.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.01% to 9562 and the Chinese Hang Seng climbed 0.79% to 20810.

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