Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday alongside weak global markets as the dollar rallied after the government reported initial jobless claims rose less than expected.
According to the Labor Department, initial jobless claims increased by 1,000 from last week to a seasonally adjusted 434,000 after declining for two consecutive weeks. Analysts forecast claims rising to 447,000.
The better-than-expected data did little to move equities ahead of the closely watched monthly non-farm payrolls report on Friday.
The weekly initial claims doesn't strike me as terribly meaningful one way or the other ... The data doesn't change my mind about tomorrow's number because we'll be looking at two different parts of the month, said Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jefferies & Co In New York.
Economists look for a loss of 8,000 non-farm jobs after a surprisingly small total of 11,000 job losses in November, and the unemployment rate seen at 10.1 percent versus 10 percent last month.
S&P 500 futures lost 2.8 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 24 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 2.5 points.
U.S. retailers including Sears Holdings Corp
Sears gained 14.4 percent to $101.60 while Costco rose 1 percent to $60.60.
Limited Brands Inc
But Abercrombie & Fitch Co
The stronger U.S. dollar <.DXY>, up 0.5 percent against a basket of major currencies, also pressuring commodities.
February crude oil futures fell 0.3 percent to $82.80 a barrel as signs of tighter monetary policy in China sparked concerns about demand.
European stocks were down Thursday in their first broad retreat this year, while Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> closed down 0.5 percent. China's key stock <.SSEC> index fell nearly 2 percent.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Thursday the U.S. labor market is improving and the economy is close to the point where unemployment will start to fall.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)