U.S. stock index futures extended losses after the government released disappointing news trade and jobless claims.
Earlier, futures tracked Asianand European lossesamid concerns over rising oil pricesafter some of Libya's oil infrastructure was bombed by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Initial jobless for the week ended March 5 rose 26,0000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, according to the Labor Department. Claims had fallen to a 2 1/2-year low the week before. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected claims to rise to 378,000 from a slightly upwardly revised 371,000 the week before.
The U.S. trade deficit widened by $6 billion to $46.3 billion, led by imports of oil, capital goods and cars. The gap was far more than the $41.5 billion expected by analysts, according to Reuters.
Libya turned away crude tankersfrom various ports as storage facilities dried up because of supply disruptions at oil fields from weeks of social unrest, prompting ships to reroute to Saudi Arabia and Algeria to secure cargos.
As the fighting continues, oil prices will likely, once again, direct stocks.
The Bank of England holds its interest-rate meeting, but is unlikely to echo the hawkish stance of the European Central Bank.
The BoE left rates steady at 0.5 percent, as expected, to avoid derailing the economic recovery.
GM shares fell after news Chris Liddell, the automaker's chief financial officer, was leaving after a little more than a year at the company. Liddell was previously CFO at Microsoft.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters skyrocketed after news Starbucks would sell its single-serve coffee and Tazo tea pods through Green Mountain's Keurig machines. Starbucks also gained.
In M&A, Cumulus Media has agreed to buy bankrupt rival Citadel Broadcasting for about $2.4 billion.
Wells Fargo fell despite news on Thursday that it planned to issue a dividend with a 30 percent dividend payout ratio, and that it would buyback shares.
And HCA will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday after HCA and its shareholders sold 126.2 million shares in an initial public offering.
Stocks in Europe were lower in morning trade after rating agency Moody’s,downgraded Spain's ratingto 'Aa2' with a negative outlook. Yields for Spanish debt went up following the downgrade.
The bond market will also be a focus as the U.S. Treasury auctions $13 billion of reopened 30-year bonds at 1 pm.
The auction came as Pimco's Total Return Fund dumped all U.S. government bond-related debt holdings.
Pimco co-chief investment officer Bill Gross has not been reluctant to discuss his concerns about Treasurys because of U.S. government spending and deficits.
SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro testifies before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday and is expected to ask for more money for the agency to enforce the Dodd-Frank act.
Traders are also watching the first day of trading in HCA Holdings Thursday after the hospital chain's shares were snapped up in an oversubscribed public offering of 126.2 million shares at $30 a share.
The $3.5 billion deal is the largest for a U.S. company taken private by private equity firms.
On the Calendar:
THURSDAY: 30-year Treasury bond auction, Treasury budget, money supply, Nasdaq peak anniversary; earnings before-the-bell from Smithfield Foods and after-the-bell from National Semiconductor.
FRIDAY: Retail sales, consumer sentiment, business inventories, S&P index rebalancing information due, Apple's iPad 2 ships; earnings before-the-bell from Ann Taylor.
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