Stock futures little changed after claims
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures held near steady Thursday after the government said claims for jobless benefits fell slightly.
Stock-index futures cut their losses after the release of Labor Department figures showing the jobs market remains lackluster, with claims falling by 2,000 to 387,000 last week.
"I always take a look at the non-seasonally adjusted numbers and compare to the year-ago levels, and we're better by about 10% than we were a year ago," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners in Chicago.
"There is still some fallout from the Fed meeting yesterday," he added.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU2) held flat at 12,763. Those for the Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPU2) fell 0.6 point to 1,350.10. Futures for the Nasdaq Composite (NDU2) lost 3.25 point to 2,614.
Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower Wednesday, with the Dow (DJIA) down 12.94 points at 12,824.39, after the Fed opted to extend its current bond-buying program but not expand it. The move was widely expected, but disappointed some who had hoped the U.S. central bank would announce a third round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE3.
The Fed said it stood ready to take more action on the economy if needed. See: Fed continues 'Twist'; Bernanke hints at more.
Asian markets fell after China's manufacturing activity dropped to a seven-month low, according to preliminary HSBC data. Full story: China manufacturing weakens further: HSBC.
European markets turned mostly higher, led by a rally for the IBEX 35 index (IBEX) , as an auction of government bonds raised more than expected. Global markets are also awaiting results of the independent audit of Spanish banks, which is due at 5:30 p.m. in Madrid (11:30 a.m. Eastern time).
Europe shook off news that June business activity in the euro zone remained near the prior month's 35-month low, according to results of a preliminary Markit survey.
"It's not just the euro zone that is hampering investor sentiment at the moment, but the overall outlook for major economies such as China and U.S. is under question as well, with slowdown in hiring and weaker expected growth," said Khurram Ali, broker at Valbury Capital, in a note.
Economic data still coming includes the Philadelphia Fed's factory index for June and May existing-home sales and leading economic indicators due for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.
The dollar index (DXY) , which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose to 81.755 from 81.567 in late trading Wednesday.