U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open on Thursday ahead of the publication of the Commerce Department’s retail sales report, and the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data and import price index.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.52 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.49 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.40 percent, continuing the downtrend from Wednesday's close when the Dow and S&P 500 fell more than 0.8 percent, and the Nasdaq fell by 1.06 percent.
Investors are expected to focus on retail sales for the month of May and weekly initial jobless claims reports, both to be published at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Retail sales, which measures consumer spending that accounts for the majority of overall economic activity, is expected to have posted a healthy gain in May.
“We forecast a 0.6 percent increase in top-line May retail sales, reflecting gains in motor vehicle sales for the month and higher gas station receipts. Excluding auto sales, we look for retail sales to have risen 0.4 percent,” a note from Credit Agricole said.
Economists polled by Reuters predict that jobless claims, which measure the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, are likely to edge down to 345,000 for the week ending June 8, from 346,000 in the previous week.
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The U.S. Department of Labor will also report the import price index, which measures the change in the price of imported goods and services purchased domestically, before the opening bell.
The index is expected to rise by 0.1 percent in May after declining 0.5 percent in the previous month. Meanwhile, business inventories are expected to have increased by 0.2 percent in April after remaining unchanged for two straight months.
European markets fell steeply on Thursday as sentiment was weighed down by concerns about the future of the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying program and political turbulence in Greece. London’s FTSE 100 was down 1.20 percent, Germany's DAX-30 plunged 1.92 percent, while France's CAC-40 declined 1.20 percent.
Earlier, disappointment over Shinzo Abe’s recent policies and persisting doubts over the Fed’s next move sent Asian stocks to fresh lows in 2013. Japan’s Nikkei plunged 6.35 percent and entered bear market territory as the benchmark index lost more than 20 percent since its five-and-half-year high recorded on May 23.
China's Shanghai Composite index plunged 2.83 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 2.19 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI declined 1.42 percent and India’s BSE Sensex ended down 1.12 percent.