RTTNews - Stocks are poised to open little changed on Thursday, as disappointing jobs data largely deflated early optimism on Wall Street. The major index futures are currently turning in a mixed performance, with the Dow futures down by 6 points.
While recent data has shown some signs of stabilization in the labor market, the Labor Department revealed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased in the week ended August 15th.
The report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 576,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 561,000. The increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 550,000 from the 558,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Not long after the open, trading could be impacted by the release of the Conference Board's report on leading economic indicators in the month of July as well as the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional report on manufacturing activity in the month of August.
In corporate news, diversified retailer Sears Holdings (SHLD) reported a net loss of $0.17 per share for the second quarter, hurt by an 8.6 percent drop in comparable same store sales. Analysts expected the company report a profit of $0.35 per share for the quarter.
Data storage equipment maker NetApp Inc. (NTAP) said its first quarter profit increased from last year, helped by proceeds from the termination of the Data Domain deal.
Specialty pet retailer PetSmart, Inc. (PETM) also reported second-quarter earnings growth on lower taxes as well as a 5.4 percent increase in sales from last year.
Further, Rio Tinto Group (RTP), the world's third largest mining company, reported a 65 percent drop in net income for the first half of 2009, citing a drop in aluminum, iron ore and copper prices.
Stocks were able to recover from early weakness and finished notably higher on Wednesday, largely driven by a report indicating a jump in oil demand. The Dow closed up by 61 points at 9,279, the Nasdaq climbed by 13 points to 1,969 and the S&P 500 rose by 7 points to 996.
Crude oil futures are slipping in early commodities trading, falling by $0.41 to $73.42 a barrel after moving notably higher in the previous session. The price of gold is also retreating, drifting lower by $4.40 to $940.40 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is mixed versus the major European currencies, sitting at $1.4226 against the euro and advancing to $1.6482 versus the pound. Meanwhile, the buck is sliding versus the yen, falling to 93.95 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region rebounded from yesterday's losses on Thursday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 1.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.9 percent.
The major European markets are also moving higher, with the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both rising by 1.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index is up by 1.1 percent.
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