U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open on Thursday ahead of the publication of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data, U.S. Department of Commerce’s wholesale inventories and another round of quarterly earnings reports by major corporations.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.05 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.11 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.13 percent.
The Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, before the opening bell on Thursday. Economists forecast initial jobless claims to rise to 335,000 for the week ending Apr. 27, an increase of 11,000 from 324,000 registered in the previous week, considered the lowest level in five years.
In addition, Continuing Jobless Claims data that measures the number of unemployed individuals who qualify for benefits under unemployment insurance will be released before the opening bell and the economists predict the continuing jobless claims to be 3,020,000 up from 3,019,000 registered in the previous week.
Investors are also expected to focus on the wholesale inventories report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday. The wholesale inventories report, which measures the change in the total value of goods held in inventory by wholesalers, is expected to increase by 0.3 percent in March after a 0.3 percent decline in February.
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Also, investors are likely to continue to focus on earnings reports on Thursday, with Priceline.com Inc (NASDAQ: PCLN), the leading online travel agency, among others, expected to announce their quarterly results on Thursday.
U.S. stock markets closed higher on Thursday buoyed by better-than-expected corporate earnings and encouraging Chinese trade data. Most of the S&P 500 companies such as Electronic Arts Inc, Whole Foods Market reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.32 percent to close at a record high, the S&P 500 Index gained 0.41 percent ending at another all-time high and the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.49 percent.
European shares declined across the board in the opening minutes of trade after Chinese consumer inflation data rose more than expected raising concerns that the Chinese government will withhold further monetary easing measures.
Investors also await a slew of key regional economic data, including Bank of England's interest rate decision and the European Central Bank's monthly report.
The London's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, while France's CAC-40 slid 0.8 percent. Germany's DAX-30 shed 0.2 percent.
Earlier, most Asian markets except Shanghai gained in morning trade, taking cues from a positive close on Wall Street as well as upbeat regional data, but could not hold on to gains as disappointing Chinese consumer inflation data weighed on the market sentiment.
Government data released on Thursday showed China’s consumer price index rose 2.4 percent in April from the year ago period, driven by food prices index that rose 4 percent in April, while wholesale prices suffered a steeper fall. The worse-than-expected CPI data is expected to restrict Beijing from further easing the monetary policy.
"Monetary policy is likely to stay relatively accommodative as China's economic recovery remains fragile," Zhou Hao, China economist at ANZ in Shanghai told Reuters adding that central bank is widely expected to keep policy broadly neutral with some fine tuning to support the economy amid the global uncertainties.
However, the Chinese CPI remains below the central bank’s forecast of 3 percent annual inflation growth for the year.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.14 percent to close at 23,211.48. The Chinese Shanghai Composite was down 0.59 percent to 2,232.97.
The Nikkei closed down 0.66 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI climbed 1.2 percent following a surprise interest rate cut by the Bank of Korea.