US Markets

Futures remain flat after jobless claims report

U.S. stock index futures remained unchanged near the flatline Thursday, after the S&P 500 logged a seven-day win streak, following a better-than-expected jobless claims report.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims fell 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 292,000, but the data was clouded by a processing glitch. A department analyst said the majority of the decline appeared to be because two states did not process all the claims they received during the week.

Meanwhile, export prices declined 0.5 percent in August, falling for the sixth-straight month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected export prices to rise 0.1 percent last month.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, will meet in Geneva to discuss Moscow's suggestion that Syria surrender its chemical weapons. President Barack Obama has pressed for military strikes against Syria should diplomacy fails.

In Asia, China's benchmark stock index hit a three-month high following a speech by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, Keqiang said the government will push on with economic and financial reforms as it targets steady growth.

However, fears of a looming reduction in the Federal Reserve's stimulus program weighed on the rest of Asian stocks. Next week the Federal Open Market Committee will meet once again, amid expectations that this will be the month when the central bank announces a tapering of its bond-buying program.

Among earnings, Lululemon Athletica beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines for its most recent quarter, but slumped after the yogawear retailer cut its full-year forecasts. The company added that it's recovered from problems caused by the recall of its popular line of yoga pants.

Kroger edged higher after the grocery-store chain posted quarterly results that matched expectations and lifted the lower end of its same-store sales guidance.

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The Treasury will sell $13 billion of 30-year bonds at 1 p.m. ET, part of the week's $65 billion supply of coupon-bearing government debt. The auction follows Wednesday's well-bid for 10-year note sale, and also the launch of a record $49 billion bond issue by Verizon.

Meanwhile, Pandora named former Microsoft executive Brian McAndrews as its new chief executive officer, replacing Joe Kennedy.

Royal Caribbean rallied after the cruise line operator more than doubled its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share from 12 cents a share. It also named former Ernst & Young CEO William Kimsey as its first lead director.

The Federal monthly budget statement will be out at 2 pm ET. Consensus forecasts call for a $150 billion deficit in August, compared to $190.5 billion a year ago.

On Tap This Week:

THURSDAY: Natural gas inventories, 30-yr bond auction, Treasury budget, Fed's balance sheet/money supply; Earnings from Ulta Salon
FRIDAY: PPI, retail sales, consumer sentiment, business inventories, Wal-Mart holiday layaway begins

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