Futures Hold Losses After Economic Reports
U.S. stock index futures continued to trade in negative territory Thursday, a day after the S&P 500 logged its worst one-day selloff in 2013, following a disappointing jobless claims report and as consumer price index remained unchanged in January.
On the economic front, weekly jobless claims jumped 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, according to the Labor Department, exceeding expectations for a gain to 355,000, according to a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, a Labor Department analyst said claims for California, Virginia, Hawaii and the District of Columbia had been estimated. The four-week moving average for new claims rose 8,000 to 360,750.
And the consumer price index was flat for a second straight month in January due to weak gasoline and food prices, according to the Labor Department, allowing the Federal Reserve to maintain its accomodative monetary policy to support the economy. Economists expected a gain of 0.1 percent, according to a Reuters survey. Meanwhile, consumer prices excluding food and energy climbed 0.3 percent, marking its biggest gain in nearly two years.
Minutes from the Fed's meeting in January released on Wednesday showed that policymakers were growing concerned about the impact of quantitative easing (QE3), suggesting the Fed may look to taper off its $85 billion per month purchases earlier than what economists and analysts had projected. Equities turned sharply lower following the minutes and finished near session lows, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posting their biggest one-day drop this year.
(Read More: Fed Officials Divided on Future of QE)
Among earnings, Wal-Mart gained after the big-box retailer posted quarterly earnings that topped expectations, but guidance for the first quarter came in shy of estimates as higher gas prices and the payroll tax increase cut into consumer spending. Wal-Mart also said it would raise its fiscal year 2014 dividend by 18 percent to $1.88 share.
Late last week, Wal-Mart shares tumbled after a leaked internal company email, in which an executive said February sales were a "total disaster" so far, due to the payroll-tax increase that kicked in at the beginning of the year.
Chesapeake Energy also rose after the energy company posted earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. The earnings report came a day after the company said an internal investigation of the financial dealings of its outgoing chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, found no "intentional" wrongdoing.
Also on the economic front, the Conference Board releases its leading economic indicators index for January at 10 am ET and the Philadelphia Fed index, which measures changes in business growth, will also be released at the same time.
"We suspect the U.S. manufacturing sector has continued to heal, partly because of rising international demand," Amna Asaf, U.S. economist at independent research firm Capital Economics, wrote in a note. "Overall, industry in the U.S. is hardly firing on all cylinders, but it does seem to be benefiting from the recent increase in overseas demand."
Existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors will also be released at 10 am ET. Economists polled by Reuters forecast sales fell slightly in January to 4.9 million, after a disappointing 1 percent decline in December.
Natural gas and crude oil inventories data for last week will be released at 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. respectively.
Hopes the euro zone might emerge from recession soon were dealt a blow earlier on Thursday, as PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) surveys showed the downturn in the region's service sector worsened unexpectedly in February.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: PMI manufacturing index flash, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, natural gas inventories, oil inventories, Fed's Bullard speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Fed's Fisher speaks, weekly rail numbers; Earnings from AIG, Hewlett-Packard, Cabot Oil & Gas, Newmont Mining, Nordstrom
FRIDAY: Fed's Powell speaks, Wynn shareholders meeting; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Washington Post
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