Stock futures trade cautiously ahead of jobless claims

Investors will also get to digest reports on July’s trade balance and the ISM’s non-manufacturing PMI for August

U.S. equity futures are trading lower heading into the Thursday trading session.

A full plate of economic reports has the potential to set the direction of the market.

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The Labor Department is expected to say the number of claims for unemployment benefits declined to 950,000, down 56,000 from the previous week’s tally of 1.006 million and the lowest reading since March 14, right before the coronavirus lockdowns. Since the lockdowns began 58.41 million people have filed for jobless benefits.

Investors will also get to digest reports on July’s trade balance, revisions to 2Q productivity and labor costs and the ISM’s non-manufacturing PMI for August.

In Europe, London's FTSE added 0.7%, Germany's DAX gained 1.2% and France's CAC rose 1.7%.

In Asia, the Nikkei in Tokyo gained 0.9%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.5% and China's Shanghai Composite was off 0.6%.

US PRIVATE EMPLOYERS ADD 428,000 JOBS IN AUGUST, MISSING EXPECTATIONS

A report Wednesday by payroll processor ADP, widely watched as a forerunner of government employment data due out Friday, showed the private sector added 428,000 jobs in August, less than half the 1 million expected by forecasters.

Analysts said that could be a warning sign the job market is cooling after some U.S. states reimposed anti-virus controls and the expiration of supplemental unemployment benefits cut into consumer spending.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34720.9 -93.49 -0.27%
SP500 S&P 500 4469.41 -11.29 -0.25%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 15146.011326 -15.52 -0.10%

Also, the U.S. Federal Reserve said its August survey of businesses found enduring uncertainty over the pandemic and the harm it causes to consumer and business activity.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index gained 1.5% on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6% to 29,100.50 and the Nasdaq composite added 1% to 12,056.44.

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Benchmark U.S. crude oil for October delivery fell 72 cents to $40.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slid $1.25 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oils, lost 71 cents to $43.71 per barrel in London. It dropped $1.15 the previous session to $44.43 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.