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Futures Turn Flat After Economic News

Futures were near flat Thursday after news weekly jobless claims declined as expected and non-farm productivity was weaker than previously thought in the second quarter.

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 409,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. Economists had forecast claims falling to 410,000 last week, according to a Reuters poll. The prior week's claims were revised up to 421,000 from the previously reported 417,000.

Meanwhile, revised second quarter productivity tumbled 0.7 percent. Economists had expected productivity to drop 0.5 percent, according to Reuters.

Also on the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management meanwhile publishes manufacturing data at 10 am in New York with a Reuters poll of analysts expecting the US to follow Europe and forecasting output to contract 2 points in August from the prior month to 48.5 from 50.9.

If correct it would be the first time the ISM index has fallen below the psychological barrier of 50 points since 2009.

And July construction spending data is due at 10:00am in New York with economists in a Reuters survey forecasting a rise of 0.2 percent.

Goldman Sachs and two other firms agreed with the New York banking regulator to end the practice known as robo-signing, in which bank employees signed foreclosure documents without reviewing case files as required by law, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

IBM is buying Toronto-based risk analytics software firm Algorithmics for $387 million in cash to enhance its financial services capabilities.

Most retailers reported better-than-expected August sales, withstanding sagging consumer confidence and Hurricane Irene.

The U.S. government sued to block AT&T's $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA, citing concerns it will harm competition in the wireless market and lead to higher prices.

In Europe manufacturing contracted in the euro zone more than initially thought in August, sending the purchasing managers index for the sector to a two-month low, according to data released Thursday.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index snapped a three-day winning streak. Overall the index fell 10.6 percent in August.

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: ISM Mfg index, construction spending, chain store sales, auto sales
FRIDAY: Non-farm payroll