Stock futures drift after jobless claims rise

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures were little changed early Thursday after the government reported a rise in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week.

KEEPING SCORE: Less 20 minutes before the U.S. market opened, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,512. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose one point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,885 and Nasdaq futures added three points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,637. Major indexes rose Wednesday and have finished higher in three of the last four trading days. The gains have pushed the S&P 500 index up 0.5 percent for the week.

JOBS WATCH: The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits increased last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. A less volatile measure of unemployment claims, the four-week average, fell to 322,500. The average reached a seven-year low of 312,000 last month.

NO LOVE: Sears Holdings Corp. reported a wider quarterly loss early Thursday as sales slumped. Sears has been cutting costs, reducing inventory and selling assets as it tries to return to profitability. Revenue fell, partly because the company has fewer stores. Sears, which also operates Kmart, sank 66 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $35.90 in premarket trading.

ASIA: Thailand's currency sank Thursday after the country's military seized power in a coup. The Thai army chief's announcement of the coup came after the local stock market had ended its trading day with a slight gain. The Thai stock exchange said trading would open as usual on Friday.

In Japan, the Nikkei surged more than 2 percent, helped by an optimistic report on China's economy as well as minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last major meeting, which suggested the central bank was in no hurry to hike interest rates.

EUROPE: Major stock markets in Europe were flat following the release of a survey that showed little growth in manufacturing activity. Stocks were muted after a business survey indicated that economic growth in the region remains lackluster. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.3 percent while Germany's DAX rose less than 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was off 0.1 percent.

OTHER MARKETS: U.S. government bonds barely moved following the report on unemployment claims. The yield on the 10-year note traded at 2.53 percent late Wednesday. Gold jumped $13.80 to $1,302 an ounce.