NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Thursday following the previous session's sharp losses, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.05 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.09 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.13 percent at 3:45 a.m. EDT.
Investors awaited U.S. weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, factory orders at 10 a.m. EDT as well as chain store sales for last month. Sales from retailers are expected to show how higher gasoline prices have crimped consumer demand for summer clothing and other discretionary items.
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The high unemployment rate means the Fed's ultra-easy money policies remain the right course of action, top Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday. High unemployment is not a "quickly resolvable problem," but April's job gains show that the economic recovery is on a firmer footing, Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto said.
The dollar stuck near a one-month low against a basket of currencies and hovered near a record low versus the Swiss franc on Thursday, after more weak U.S. data suggested that the U.S. economy's soft patch may become protracted.
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China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it "cannot accept" accusations that hackers likely based in China tried to break into hundreds of Google mail accounts.
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European stocks were down around 1 percent in morning trade, dropping for a second straight session, hit by the latest string of poor U.S. macro data and after Moody's cut Greece's credit rating by three notches. The credit rating agency cited a growing risk that the government will fail to stabilize its debt position without a debt restructuring.
Moody's downgrade has moved Greece's ratings to the extremely speculative level of "Caa1," seven notches into junk territory, from the previous level of B1.
Wall Street ended a four-day rally with its worst session since August on Wednesday and could suffer more losses in coming days as investors are faced with more signs the economic recovery is fading.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 279.42 points, or 2.22 percent, at 12,290.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 30.66 points, or 2.28 percent, at 1,314.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 66.11 points, or 2.33 percent, at 2,769.19.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson. Editing by Jane Merriman)