Stocks were set to open lower Thursday as a batch of weak earnings reports overshadowed the stronger-than-expected weekly jobless claims news.
New claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week to hit their lowest level in 2-1/2 years, according to the Labor Department, offering a glimmer of hope that the labor market was strengthening despite Januarys weak figures. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000, the lowest since early July 2008.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 410,000. The prior weeks figure was revised up to 419,000, from the previously reported 415,000.
Investors took profits after a recent rise in U.S. stocks in the previous session, but a late push helped the Dow squeeze out its eighth straight day of gains.
In the morning's earnings news, Pepsi narrowly beat profit estimatesbut saw its shares slip on a disappointing outlook.
Cisco shares plunged in pre-market trading after the tech bellwetherposted a better-than-expected profit after-the-bell Wednesday, but its revenue forecast was lower than expected while its margins came under pressure.
Credit Suisse shares tumbled in pre-market trading after the bank missed profit expectationsdue to debt charges and cut its return on equity target due to tighter capital regulations.
And Sprint's revenue rose 6 percentand it added mobile subscribers for the first quarter in more than three years, sending its shares up in pre-market trading.
Kraft and Expedia are slated to report earnings after-the-bell.