Stock futures point to lower open on Wall Street

 @ibtimes
on March 04 2010 7:16 AM

Stock index futures point to a lower open on Wall Street on Thursday, with weekly jobless data due before the market opens, and non-farm payrolls figures to come on Friday.

At 0950 GMT (4:50 a.m. ET), futures for the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down between 0.1 and 0.3 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was down 0.2 percent, ahead of interest rate decisions at the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, and with brewing giant AB Inbev down 3.8 percent after its results.

Dutch grocer Ahold , which makes about 60 percent of its sales in the U.S., met forecasts with lower quarterly profit as it ramped up promotions to boost weak consumer demand. The shares rose 4.1 percent, after it announced a share buyback.

Weekly jobless claims are expected to slip by 26,000 to 470,000 for the latest week. The data, due at 1330 GMT, comes a day before the monthly non-farm payrolls, expected to show a loss of 50,000 jobs in February.

January factory goods orders are expected to show an increase of 1.8 percent, nearly double the 1 percent rise recorded in December. Some analysts are expecting particular strength in the durable goods component, helped by the transport sector.

Other data due includes pending home sales, which is expected to repeat the 1 percent rise recorded in December.

Wendy's/Arby's Group reports fourth-quarter results. The third-largest U.S. fast-food chain has lagged bigger rivals McDonald's and Burger King as it works to revive both of its brands at a time of rampant discounting, intense competition and high unemployment.

U.S. stocks ended little changed on Wednesday as worries about bank regulation and a setback for drug company Pfizer offset signs of improvement in the labor market and services sector.

Shares of Petsmart Inc rose more than 4 percent after the bell, after the company reported fourth-quarter results.

(Reporting by Brian Gorman, editing by Will Waterman)

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