US stock futures edge up after jobless claims drop

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures are inching up Thursday after a government report said the number of people applying for unemployment benefits sank last week. The stock market is set to open just short of a record high.

KEEPING SCORE: Less than an hour before the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 26 points to 16,654. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are up three points to 1,912 while Nasdaq 100 futures are up five points to 3,721.

The S&P 500 index closed at a record 1,911.11 on Tuesday.

WRONG WAY: The Commerce Department said Thursday that the economy shrunk at an annual rate of 1 percent in the first three months of the year, worse than the government's initial estimate a month ago. Economists are looking for a strong rebound in the April-June period as the country shakes off a severe winter.

JOBS WATCH: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to 300,000, according to the Labor Department. The less-volatile four-week average fell to 311,500, the lowest since August, 2007.

BONDS: Long-term interest rates remained near their lows for the year, as the yield on the 10-year Treasury traded at 2.44 percent, unchanged from late Wednesday. The yield, which is used to set a wide variety of lending rates, reached its lowest level in nearly a year on Wednesday. Big banks and big investors from around the world continue to put money into the U.S. Treasury market, extending a rally that has taken many investors and analysts by surprise.

EUROPE: Major European markets were mostly flat on Thursday. Germany's DAX was down 0.1 percent and France's CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.3 percent.

COMMODITIES: Crude oil rose 2 cents to $102.74 a barrel. Gold sank $6.70 to $1,252.40 an ounce.