US Stock Futures Signal Slightly Lower Open Ahead of Jobless Claims, Personal Spending Data

  on January 31 2013 4:16 AM

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open Thursday ahead of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report and the publication of the Commerce Department's personal income and spending data.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.06 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.01 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.15 percent.

Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data, to be reported on 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 350,000 in the week ending Jan. 26, up from 330,000 in the previous week.

Investors are also expected to focus on the Department of Commerce's monthly core PCE price index, which measures personal spending and income and is due to be released before the markets open. Economists expect a 0.8 percent increase in income and 0.3 percent increase in spending in December, a gain of 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, over the previous month. The core PCE indicator is expected to increase 0.1 percent.

In addition, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index for January will be released after the opening bell. Economists expect a reading of 50.8 in January, up from 48.9 in December.

Also, market participants will continue to focus on earnings reports, with United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS), Viacom Inc. (Nasdaq:VIAB), Mastercard Inc. (NYSE:MA), Dow Chemical Co (NYSE:DOW) and Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE:CL) expected to announce their quarterly results on Thursday.

Shares of Facebook will be in focus after the company reported fourth quarter earnings late Wednesday. The company reported fourth quarter net income of $64 million or $0.03 per share, down from $205 million or $0.14 per share in the same period last year. The adjusted net profit was $0.17 per share compared with $0.15 per share last year, which was above analysts’ estimate of $0.15 per share.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks declined after the Federal Reserve maintained its monthly bond purchase schedule. The Fed noted that the U.S. economy's slow growth rate in the final three months of last year was temporary. Official data had recently showed that the world’s largest economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter for the first time since the 2008/09 recession.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said Wednesday that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell to a 0.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter after growing at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter. However, the GDP data was not as bad as it appeared as private consumption rose by 2.2 percent and business investment increased by 8 percent and residential investment increased by as much as 15.3 percent.

European stock markets were trading lower with the FTSE 100 down 21.16 points, the DAX30 losing 13.10 points and the CAC 40 declining 15.30 points.

Asian stock markets mostly declined Thursday, as Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.39 percent, India’s BSE Sensex declined 0.38 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.13 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.22 percent.

Official data released by Japan's trade ministry Thursday showed that Japan’s industrial production rose 2.5 percent on monthly basis in December after declining 1.4 percent in the previous month, but it was still weaker than economists’ estimate of a 4.1 percent increase.

Join the Discussion