Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday on renewed concerns about the euro zone's financial health, but encouraging employment data was expected to limit the decline.
The private sector added 325,000 jobs in December, well above expectations for 178,000, while weekly jobless claims fell by 15,000 last week. The reports offered more evidence the U.S. labor market was improving, reassuring market participants that the United States could resist the effects of a possible euro zone recession.
The ADP number was a gigantic figure. Even if they're only 50 percent right, the number is still a huge improvement. The jobless number is definitely a positive as well ... they point to what should be a fabulous number tomorrow, said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at Landcolt Trading in Wilmington, Delaware. Bulls will be running today.
Still, investors closely watched the euro, which has been closely correlated with global equities, which tumbled to a 15-month low against the dollar and an 11-year low versus the yen. Investors questioned the ability of European banks to raise capital amid the region's debt crisis.
S&P 500 futures fell 7 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 39 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 5 points.
European shares pared losses on Thursday, after the U.S. data. <.EU>
Easing some anxiety about the debt crisis, French borrowing costs rose slightly when the government sold debt for the first time this year on Thursday. Demand was solid despite concerns it could lose its AAA credit rating, offering relief the bloc's stronger sovereigns can still smoothly manage an escalation of the debt crisis for now.
Retail stocks will be in the spotlight as the first batch of December same-store sales indicated people were willing and able to shop if U.S. retailers offered discounts.
December's U.S. ISM non-manufacturing index will be released at 10 a.m. EST. The index is seen at 53.0 versus 52.0.
Major U.S. stock indexes were little changed in a low-volume session on Wednesday, but some investors were encouraged to see equities avoid a selloff amid lingering euro zone's debt problems.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)