U.S. stock index futures point to a lower opening Thursday after the Department of Labor's initial jobless claims report, which showed that more people than expected filed for unemployment benefits, and the National Association of Realtors' report on existing home sales.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.3 percent and futures on the Nasdaq 100 index fell 0.4 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on weekly jobless claims data, reported by the Dept. of Labor, which showed that more people than expected filed for unemployment benefits. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time during the past week, is expected to show a decline to 380,000 in the week ending June 16, down from 386,000 recorded in the previous week.
The National Association of Realtors' home sales report, which measures the change in the annualized number of existing residential buildings that were sold during the previous month, will also be made public Thursday. It is expected to decline to 4.57 million units in May, down from 4.62 million units in April.
On Wednesday, U.S. markets were down as investor sentiment was negative following slowing economic growth, which was forecast for the year by the Fed. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.10 percent, the S&P 500 Index fell 0.17 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up marginally at 0.02 percent.
The Fed opted to extend its Maturity Extension Program (MEP), dubbed 'Operation Twist' by U.S. media, for another six months. However, investors were disappointed to note that the program offered no strong quantitative easing measures. The original MEP stimulus program was due to end in June, but the Fed announced it will continue it until the end of 2012.
Major European indices were in the red as investors remained cautious about the euro zone debt crisis as Spain's borrowing cost was expected to rise at a debt auction on Thursday. London's FTSE 100 fell by 17.95 points, Germany's DAX 30 index declined 21.58 points and France's CAC 40 moved down 8.98 points.
Asian markets fell Thursday following global cues as investors felt let down by the Fed's lack of a further round of quantitative easing measures. Another factor that dragged down the market was the report that China's manufacturing activity continued to contract for the seventh straight month, according to the preliminary HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) report released Thursday.