US Markets

Stock futures extend gains as jobless claims dip to near monthly low

U.S. stock-index futures added to modest gains on Thursday after the government reported jobless claims fell more than expected last week, casting a favorable light on the labor market.

The Labor Department reported claims fell by 42,000 to 338,000 last week, Economists had projected state unemployment benefits would total 345,000 for the week ended Dec. 21, with claims for the prior week revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Shares of and United Parcel Service edged higher in early New York trading after the online retailer offered to refund shipping charges after the package-delivery company said it did not deliver some packages by Christmas due to overwhelming volume.

Thomson Reuters' Lipper service will also publish its weekly fund flow data, which help to give investors insight into where money is moving among U.S.-domiciled mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

The markets continue in Santa-rally mode, with major market indexes hitting highs. The Dow industrials have been on a tear following the Federal Reserve's decision last week to cut back on its $85 billion a month bond-buying program.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62.94 points, or 0.4 percent, on Tuesday to a record close of 16,357.55, while the S&P 500 also touched an all-time closing high, up 5.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,833.32.