Barefoot Investor: US stock futures down as unemployment claims rise

U.S. stock futures fell Thursday after a report that the jobs market remains stagnant.

The government said that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week rose to 400,000 from 398,000 the previous week. The increase was slightly less than Wall Street's estimate of 405,000 claims.

Stocks have been volatile this week because of concerns that the U.S. economy is weakening. Manufacturing, consumer spending and hiring by private companies are each below what typically signifies a healthy, growing economy.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 127 points, or 1.1 percent, to 11,691. Standard and Poor's 500-index futures are down 17, or 1.3 percent, to 1,238. Nasdaq 100 futures are down 27, or 1.2 percent, to 2,275.

Stock futures do not always accurately predict the direction of the market once trading opens, however.

Kraft Foods rose more than 6 percent in premarket trading after the company said that it plans to split into two. One company will focus on snacks such as Oreo cookies and the other will target the North American grocery business. General Motors Co. fell 0.5 percent in pre-market trading despite beating analyst estimates. And CVS Caremark fell nearly 3 percent before the market opened after its revenue slipped last quarter.

Several national retailers are announcing July sales results throughout the day. Target gained 0.5 percent in premarket trading after its revenue at stores open at least a year beat Wall Street's estimates. Gap Inc. fell 1 percent in premarket trading after it said that its revenue was flat compared with the same time last year.

The Dow rose 30 points -- after being down 166 -- to break an eight-day losing streak Wednesday. Nine days would have been the longest since February 1978. The S&P 500 index rose 6 points and broke a seven-day streak.(AP)


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