RTTNews - After ending the previous session moderately lower, stocks are likely to show a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday. The major futures index futures are currently indicating a roughly flat open, with the Dow futures down just 10 points.
The lack of momentum for the markets comes as traders digest the latest economic data, including a report on retail sales in the month of May and the weekly jobless claims report.
Retail sales showed a notable increase in the month of May, according to a report released by the Commerce Department, although the increase was due in large part to an increase in gasoline prices that drove up sales at gas stations.
The report showed that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in May following a revised 0.2 percent decrease in April. Economists had expected sales increased to 0.5 percent compared to the 0.4 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.
Separately, the U.S. Labor Department revealed that initial jobless claims, a closely watched gauge of layoffs, came in at 601,000 for the week ended at June 6th. This was down 24,000 from the previous week's revised level of 625,000.
However, continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, rose by 59,000 to 6.816 million in the week ended May 30th.
In other news, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is hosting Ken Lewis, the former Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America (BAC), as part of a growing investigation into whether government officials pressured the bank to withhold details about the purchase of Merrill Lynch from investors despite ballooning losses at the brokerage firm.
Additionally, smartphone maker Palm, Inc. (PALM) said Wednesday that its chairman Jon Rubinstein will assume the additional role of chief executive officer upon the departure of Ed Colligan, who is stepping down after sixteen years with the company.
Trading may also be impacted by the Treasury Department's auction of $11.0 billion worth of thirty-year bonds, scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. ET. Treasury auctions have been in focus recently, as yields have risen despite the Federal Reserve vowing to keep rates low by buying back treasuries.
Following a strong start, stocks showed a notable downturn on Wednesday amid waning buying interest and disappointing results from a ten-year note auction. The major indices pared some of their losses late in the session but remained stuck in the red. The Dow closed down 24 points 8,739, the Nasdaq closed down 7 points at 1,853 and the S&P 500 closed down 3 points at 939.
In early commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising, moving up by $0.70 to $72.03 a barrel, while gold futures are falling, slipping $3.30 to $951.40 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar has slipped against the major European currencies. The buck slid to $1.3986 against the euro and dropped to $1.6428 against the pound. The dollar has advanced versus the Japanese yen, however, moving to 98.28 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Thursday's session largely unchanged. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up by less than a tenth of a percent.
The major European markets are also turning in a lackluster performance. While the German DAX Index is up 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is just below the unchanged line.
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