Stock index futures point to lower start

By @ibtimes on

Wall Street is set to open lower on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq down 0.3-0.6 percent at 1019 GMT.

Global growth worries are likely to be a key concern as Brent crude topped $116 on Thursday after oil industry infrastructure was bombed by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Investor sentiment may also be hit by news Moody's cut Spain one notch, raising concerns about the financial health of the euro zone periphery.

Meanwhile, China swung to a surprise trade deficit in February of $7.3 billion, due to the Lunar New Year holiday, but economists said the drop was likely to prove temporary.

HCA's shares are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday under the symbol HCA after the company sold more shares than planned in its initial public offering on Wednesday, marking the largest U.S. private-equity backed IPO ever.

Health officials cleared Benlysta a treatment for lupus, discovered by Human Genome Sciences Inc and according to Thomson Reuters consensus forecasts, annual global sales might top $3 billion in 2015.

Bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc is discouraging investors from taking large new positions in the company and has set up a plan to protect tens of billions of dollars in valuable tax assets.

Looking at economic news, at 1330 GMT, investors will eye weekly U.S. jobless claims and U.S. international trade data for January.

At 1900 GMT, the Treasury Department issues its monthly budget for February.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> was down 0.5 percent in morning trade on Thursday, hit by euro zone peripheral debt concerns after Moody's downgraded Spain a notch and weak Chinese import data hurt heavyweight mining stocks.

The Nasdaq was weighed down by a weak outlook from Texas Instruments weighed on Wednesday and pushed an index of chip makers below a key technical level.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 0.01 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; editing by Sophie Walker)

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