Jobless claims, homebuilder earnings, 'first five days' indicator: 3 things to watch for in the markets on Thursday

Contractors work on a KB Home under construction at the Vicino community in San Jose, Calif.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Here are the most important things to know about Thursday before you hit the door.

1. Jobless claims

We'll get a read on the health of the labor market on Thursday when the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Economists are estimating 220,000 Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, according to Dow Jones. This would be down from the previous week's 222,000 claims.

The jobless claims report comes ahead of Friday's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report, which is expecting to slump to 160,000 jobs created, down from November's blowout reading of 266,000 jobs.

2. KB Home earnings

Home builder KB Home reports fourth quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday. Wells Fargo expects KB Home to report earnings per share of $1.29, compared to the 96 cents earned in the same period in 2018. The firm estimates order growth of 40% year-over-year.

Shares of other home building companies rose on Wednesday after Lennar reported fourth-quarter results that topped Wall Street projections. Lennar also said new orders increased by 23% compared with the same quarter the prior year. M/I Homes, Toll Brothers and PulteGroup, were up more than the broader market following the Lennar quarterly report.

Shares of KB Home have rallied nearly 75% in the past 12 months.

3. 'First five days' indicator wraps up

The first five trading days of 2020 officially ends on Wednesday at market close. Despite concern over tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the S&P 500 is up about 0.7% for the year.

The stock market's performance in the first five days of a given year can sometimes predict the market's direction for the rest of the year, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac, which studied the "first five days" phenomenon going back to 1950. When stocks finish that period higher, the S&P 500 has been positive 82% of the time at year-end with an average gain of 13.6%, according to Stock Trader's Almanac and CNBC calculations.

Major events (all times ET):

8:00 a.m. Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida speaks

8:30 a.m. Weekly jobless claims

9:30 a.m. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari speaks

11:30 a.m. New York Fed Pres. John Williams speaks

12:45 p.m. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin speaks

1:20 p.m. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks

2:00 p.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaks

Major earnings:

Acuity Brands (before the bell)

Simply Good Foods (before the bell)

KB Home (after the bell)

PriceSmart (after the bell)

Synnex (after the bell)

— With reporting from CNBC's Michael Bloom and Yun Li.