RTTNews - Following a moderate pullback seen in the previous session, stocks are looking to open Thursday's session modestly higher following the release of relatively in-line employment data. The major index futures are posting modest gains, with Dow futures up by 34 points.
First time claims for unemployment benefits showed a modest decrease in the week ended May 30th, according to a report released by the Labor Department, with the report also showing the first decrease in continuing claims in twenty weeks.
The report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 621,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 625,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge down to 620,000 from the 623,000 originally reported for the previous week.
In a separate report, the Labor Department revealed that productivity increased by 1.6 percent in the first quarter compared to the 0.8 percent increase that had been reported last month. Economists had been expecting the increase in productivity to be revised up to 1.2 percent.
Additionally, the data indicated that unit labor costs increased by 3.0 percent in the first three months of the year, a downward revision from the originally reported 3.3 percent increase. The increase in costs was expected to be revised down to 2.9 percent.
On the corporate front, Ciena Corp. (CIEN) reported an adjusted second quarter net loss of $22.5 million or $0.25 per common share, compared to net income of $42.3 million or $0.40 per common share in the year-ago quarter. Wall Street analysts expected the firm to report a loss of $0.09 per share.
Meanwhile, membership warehouses operator Costco Wholesale (COST) reported a 7 percent drop in its comparable sales for the four-week period ended May 31, 2009, with a 5 percent decline in net sales.
A number of other retails have also reported their monthly sales results, with Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), J.C. Penney (JCP), Bon-Ton (BONT) and American Apparel (APP) all reporting declining sales on a comparable store basis.
Retail giant Wal-Mart (WMT) did not release its monthly sales results, however, as the company announced last month that it would ceases providing its monthly results. At the same, Wal-Mart revealed that it would create more than 22,000 jobs in 2009 to staff new or expanded stores in the United States.
Stocks snapped a four-day winning streak on Wednesday, seeing a moderate retreat over the course of the trading session. The major averages all moved lower, as traders did some profit taking in reaction to some discouraging economic data.
The Dow closed down 66 points at 8675, the Nasdaq closed down 11 points at 1826, and the S&P 500 fell 13 points to 932.
In early commodities trading, crude oil futures are on the rise, climbing by $0.82 to $66.94 a barrel, while gold futures are retreating, dropping by $0.80 to $964.80 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar rose against the major European currencies following decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank to keep rates unchanged. The buck climbed to $1.4097 against the euro and jumped to $1.6200 against the pound. The dollar also gained versus the yen, rising to 96.75 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished modestly lower on Thursday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are modestly higher. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by less than a tenth of a percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are up by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
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