Weekly jobless claims Thursday should catch the attention of markets that are fixated on Friday's employment report.
Released at 8:30 a.m. ET, the claims are expected to total 335,000-340,000, about flat with last week's 339,000. While they have no bearing on the December report, claims are viewed as a barometer for the health of the jobs market.
"Claims will be important. If they come in below 325,000,that would be pretty good anecdotal levels," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.