U.S. stock index futures point to a mixed opening on Thursday ahead of jobless claims data from the U.S., and after the release of a host of industrial production and inflation data from euro zone countries sent mixed signals about the health of economies in the region.
Investors are also expected to tread with caution ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week, in which the central bank is expected to announce the scaling down of its massive asset-buying program. The Fed has strongly hinted that it could begin reducing the monetary stimulus starting in September.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 1.03 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.17 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were flat.
The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is scheduled to be released by the Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists predict that claims are likely to increase to 330,000 for the week ended Sept. 7, up from 323,000 in the previous week.
Meanwhile, economists expect continuing jobless claims data, which measure the number of unemployed individuals who qualify for benefits under unemployment insurance, to show a marginal increase to 2.960 million from the 2.951 million recorded in the previous week.
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Investors are also expected to focus on the Import Price Index due to be released at 8:30 a.m. EST. The index, which measures the change in the price of imported goods and services purchased domestically, is expected to increase by 0.4 percent in August, after rising 0.2 percent in July.
In Europe, markets were trading down on Thursday after a raft of economic data including industrial production and inflation rates from the region signaled continuing weakness in the euro zone economies.
In the 28-nation European Union, industrial production dropped by 1 percent in July, after an increase of 0.9 percent in June. Annually, industrial output declined by 1.7 percent in the EU. Meanwhile, Italy’s industrial production in July decreased 1.1 percent compared to the previous month, while analysts had predicted a growth of 0.3 percent.
France’s consumer price index fell below expectations to rise 0.5 percent in August, after a decrease of 0.3 percent in the previous month. Italy’s CPI grew 0.4 percent in August month-on-month, after a 0.3 percent increase in July, while Spain’s CPI grew 0.3 percent in August on a monthly basis, after a decline of 0.5 percent in July.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 0.36 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.36 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was down 0.27 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 0.48 percent.
In Asia, most markets traded slightly higher, aided by gains in energy stocks, while Japan and India traded lower.
Japan’s Nikkei ended down 0.26 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.16 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index ended up 0.64 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.07 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index was flat and India’s BSE Sensex ended down 1.08 percent.