RTTNews - Stocks are pointing to a modestly lower open Thursday morning, as traders digest some disappointing employment data. The major index futures are currently all in negative territory, with Dow futures down by 46 points.
Generating some of the early pessimism is a report from the Labor Department, which showed that jobless claims for the week ended June 20th came in at 627,000, up from last week's revised figure of 612,000. The figure surprised economists, who had expected the number to edge down to 600,000 from the 608,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, said, The negative reaction in the futures after the number is just a reminder that the road to recovery will be a very long one with still many twists and turns.
Even if the economy stops getting worse, until it starts generating at least 100,000 jobs per month, the unemployment rate is still going higher, Boockvar added.
Separately, the Department of Commerce revealed its final revision to first quarter gross domestic product. The report indicated that first quarter GDP contracted by a revised 5.5 percent compared to the 5.7 percent decrease that had been reported.
Later today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify before the House Oversight Committee in connection with the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America last year. The testimony is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. ET.
In earnings news, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) said its first-quarter net income rose to $0.34 per share from $0.30 per share in the same quarter last year, while analysts expected the firm to earn $0.25 per share for the quarter. The stock has risen 5 percent in pre-market trading.
While Nike (NKE) reported adjusted fourth quarter net income of $0.99 per share, which beat Wall Street expectations of $0.96 per share, the firm said worldwide future orders scheduled for delivery from June 2009 through November 2009 are down 12 percent from a year ago.
Despite ConAgra Foods (CAG) reporting fourth quarter earnings just short of analyst expectations, the company's forecast of earnings of $1.63-$1.66 for 2010 came in line with estimates.
After showing a strong upward move in morning trading, stocks ended Wednesday's trading mostly higher, although the major averages turned in a mixed performance. The Dow ended the session down 23 points at 8,300, while the Nasdaq jumped 27 points to 1,792 and the S&P 500 rose 6 points to 901.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, climbing by $0.44 to $69.11 a barrel after ending the previous session down $0.57 at $68.67 a barrel. Meanwhile, the price of gold is moving up by $0.50 to $934.90 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is rising against the major European currencies, climbing to $1.3912 against the euro while advancing to $1.6247 against the pound. The dollar has also jumped against the yen, moving up to 96.14.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Thursday's session showing strong gains. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up 2.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 2.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are seeing considerable weakness, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both sliding by 2.1 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 1.2 percent.
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