U.S. stock index futures edged lower after an unexpected gain in weekly jobless claims trumped hopes for more stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
On the economic front, jobless claims gained unexpectedly to the highest level in five weeks, climbing 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected a reading of 365,000 new filings. The four-week moving average for new claims was 368,000 last week.
Meanwhile, manufacturing ticked higher in August to 51.9 but hiring in the sector slowed and weak overseas demand for American goods kept the pace of overall growth subdued, according to financial information firm Market and its U.S. "flash" manufacturing PMI. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
New home sales report for July is expected at 10 pm ET. Economists forecast a total of 365,000 annualized units, compared with 350,000 in June.
Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after the latest minutes from the FOMC minutes showed "many" members said additional accommodation is likely warranted unless the economy improves substantially.
Despite recent economic data pointing to a brighter economic prospects for the economy, minutes released from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed that policymakers were dissatisfied with the outlook for the economy.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told CNBC that current economic conditions are not weak enoughto warrant further monetary easing from the central bank.
Markets in Europe and Asia rose following the Fed's announcement, but the rally was curtailed by weak PMI data from the euro zone and China that showed growth was continuing to slow.
China’s factory output dropped to a nine-month low, confirming fears of an entrenched slowdown for the world’s second-largest economy. In the euro zone, data showed Germany, the region’s power house, was also feeling the effects of the debt crisis, while entire region is now heading for its second recession in three years.
Among earnings, Hewlett-Packard tumbled after the tech giant missed quarterly revenue expectations and cut its full-year earnings outlook.
Big Lots plunged after the retailer posted lower-than-expected earnings and slashed its full-year adjusted profit forecast.
Salesforce.com is slated to post earnings after the closing bell.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
What's Happening This Week:
THURSDAY: New home sales, FHFA home price index; Earnings from Salesforce.com
FRIDAY: Durable goods orders, USDA food prices outlook
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