Weekly jobless claims is the data du jour Thursday as markets countdown to Friday's December employment report.
Economists expect 290,000 Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits, off from 298,000 the week earlier. The claims unexpectedly rose in the week earlier after four weeks of declines, but the four-week average was 290,750.
While the claims number is unrelated to the December employment report expected Friday, traders will look for confirmation of an improving employment trend. Claims are reported at 8:30 a.m. ET and consumer credit is expected at 3 p.m.
Stocks rallied Wednesday, breaking a five-day losing streak as oil stabilized and the ADP private sector payroll report showed 241,000 jobs in December, slightly more than expected. According to Reuters, economists expect 240,000 nonfarm payrolls in the government report Friday, down from a surprise 321,000 payrolls in November.