The U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open Thursday ahead of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data, Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data and Automatic Data Processing’s (ADP) National Employment Report.
The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.25 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.43 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.17 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported Thursday. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to rise to 370,000 in the week ending Oct. 27, up from 369,000 in the previous week.
Investors are also likely to focus on the ISM’s Manufacturing PMI, to be reported Thursday. The ISM manufacturing index, which rates the relative level of business conditions, including employment, production, new orders, prices, supplier deliveries and inventories, is expected to marginally rise to 51.2 in October, down from 51.5 in September. A level above 50 represents expansion in the industry.
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The ADP will release its National Employment Report Thursday. The report is a measure of the monthly change in nonfarm private employment data based on the payroll data of approximately 400,000 U.S. business clients. It is expected to rise by 135,000 jobs in October, down from 162,000 in September.
The Conference Board will release the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) Thursday. The CCI, an indicator of the consumer spending that plays a major role in overall economic activity, is expected to rise to 72.5 in October, up from 70.3 in September.
On Wednesday, the U.S. markets were mixed as they reopened after two days of closure as Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.08 percent, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.02 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.36 percent.
European markets remained flat Thursday as investors were watchful amid the revival of worries about the debt burden affecting the euro zone. London's FTSE 100 was up 2.20 points, Germany's DAX 30 index fell 1.07 points and France's CAC 40 gained 1.27 points.
Asian stocks rose Thursday after China reported that its manufacturing activity expanded in October after two months of contraction, giving an indication that the second-largest economy is reviving its growth momentum. The data released Thursday by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing showed that the Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.2 in October from 49.8 in September.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 120.32 points, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 18.58 points and India’s BSE Sensex gained 25.67 points.