U.S. stocks were set for a flat open on Thursday as a rise in initial weekly jobless claims offset better-than-expected earnings from several banks, including Goldman Sachs Group
Goldman Sachs added 0.4 percent to $168.43 in premarket trades as the bank reduced its 2009 bonus pool and posted fourth quarter net income of $8.20 per share. Wall Street's estimate was for earnings of $5.20 per share.
But government data showed the number of workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose to 482,000 last week, higher than the 440,000 forecast, as claims delayed from the year-end holidays were pushed through.
Fifth-Third gained 5.7 percent to $11.95 in premarket trade while KeyCorp rose 4.3 percent to $7.26.
(Financials) have been kind of clearing the decks a little bit, getting set for a good second quarter and the numbers have been OK, said Todd Leone, head of listed trading, Cowen & Co. in New York.
But we really aren't seeing the jobs -- that's what people are concerned about.
Data expected later Thursday includes the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for December and January's Philadelphia Federal Reserve business index at 10 a.m. EST.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 point and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 27 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3 points.
President Barack Obama, fresh from his party's election defeat in the U.S. Senate, will propose stricter limits on financial risk-taking on Thursday in a move that may recall Depression-era curbs on banks.
Navigation device maker Garmin Ltd
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)