US Stock Futures Signal Slightly Lower Open Ahead Of Jobless Claims, Housing Starts, Building Permits Data

   on January 17 2013 4:08 AM
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 22, 2010. REUTERS

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open Thursday ahead of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data and the Census Bureau’s data on housing starts and building permits.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.04 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.06 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.03 percent. 

Investors are likely to focus on the U.S. weekly 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 365,000 in the week ending Jan. 12, down from 371,000 in the previous week.

The Census Bureau will publish housing starts data on Thursday, measuring the change in the annualized number of residential buildings that began construction each month. It is expected to show a rise to 890,000 in December, up from 861,000 in November.

The Census Bureau will also report data on building permits, which measure the change in the number of new building permits issued by the government each month. The report is expected to show a rise to 903,000 in December, up from 900,000 in November.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks were mixed as investors remained focused on earnings, to be reported throughout the week. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) reported before the market opened that the company’s net income climbed to $5.69 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $3.73 billion in the same period last year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) reported that the company’s net earnings rose to $2.89 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $1.01 billion in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Labor, the Consumer Price Index, which measures the change in the price of goods and services from the consumers' perspective, remained flat in December, after a 0.3 percent decrease in November. Also, the Federal Reserve's Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization report, which was published on Wednesday and measures the change in the total inflation-adjusted value of output produced by manufacturers, mines and utilities, rose 0.3 percent in December after a 1.1 percent increase in November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.17 percent, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.02 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.22 percent.

Asian stocks were mixed Thursday as investors remained cautious as they awaited data from China to be announced on its economic growth. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Composite fell 47.33 points, India’s Sensex gained 97.70 points, Japan’s Nikkei rose 9.20 points and South Korea’s Kospi was down 3.18 points.

European stocks were mixed Thursday with investor sentiment weighed down by concerns of faltering economic growth in the euro zone. London's FTSE 100 was down 6.48 points, Germany's DAX 30 fell 11.68 points and France's CAC 40 gained 0.81 points. 

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