RTTNews - Following three straight days of losses, stocks are poised to open moderately higher on Thursday as traders digest the latest employment data. The major index futures are all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 39 points.
The futures have remained positively following the release of a Labor Department report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended August 29th, although the decrease followed an upward revision to previous week's initial jobless claims.
The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 570,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 574,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to slip to 564,000 from the 570,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Jobless claims have stabilized in recent weeks, well off the highs set in the Spring but still at a relatively high level indicating continued weakness in the labor market.
Also on the economic front today, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release the results of its service sector survey shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street. The index is expected show a reading of 48.0 for August after falling to 46.4 in July.
Among the retailers reporting chain store sales today, membership warehouses operator Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) reported a 2 percent decline in its August comparable-store sales, while analysts had expected a 5.7 percent drop.
Macy's (M) same store sales slid by 8.1 percent versus the 7.4 percent dip expected by analysts, while American Eagle (AEO) said its sales fell by 4 percent compared to the forecast 9.4 percent decline.
In other corporate news, Japan-based Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, or DSP, and specialty pharmaceutical company Sepracor Inc. (SEPR) revealed that they have entered into a definitive agreement, whereby DSP will acquire Sepracor for about $2.6 billion.
Search-engine giant Google (GOOG) might be in focus following news that the company's YouTube unit is in talks with major studios including Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment to offer online movie rentals for a specified fee.
Wednesday, stocks lingered near the unchanged mark for much of the trading day before a tame late session sell-off resulted in a modestly lower close. The Dow finished down by 30 points at 9,281, the Nasdaq fell by 2 points to 1,967 and the S&P 500 declined by 3 points to close at 995.
Crude oil futures have moved higher in early commodities trading, rising by $0.63 to $68.68 a barrel after seeing no change in the previous session. The price of gold is also advancing, rising by $6.80 to $983.90 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is sliding versus the major European currencies, falling to $1.4299 versus the euro and declining to $1.6360 versus the pound. The dollar is also moving lower against the yen, trading at 92.44 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mixed on Thursday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 1.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are on the rise, with the French CAC 40 and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 both climbing by 0.2 percent, while the German DAX Index is up by 0.4 percent.
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