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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures trim gains; jobless claims rise

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By Steve Goldstein and Kate Gibson , MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures pared their advance Thursday after the Labor Department reported first-time jobless claims climbed 12,000 to 472,000 last week, dampening cheer over a largely successful Spanish bond auction.

"Initial jobless claims remain disappointingly elevated," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, of the latest evidence of a soft labor market.

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A separate report from the Labor Department found consumer prices fell in May for a second month straight.

"There wasn't anything too surprising in this report, limiting its market impact," said Action Economics.

Up nearly 50 points before the economic reports, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lately up 8 points at 10,411.00. S&P 500 futures rose 1.2 points to 1,110.80 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.75 points to 1,908.75.

U.S. stocks finished largely unmoved Wednesday on a day when figures showed industrial production grew but FedEx's /quotes/comstock/13*!fdx/quotes/nls/fdx (FDX 78.12, +0.05, +0.06%) earnings outlook was below Wall Street estimates and Nokia /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 8.91, +0.14, +1.60%) issued a profit warning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite barely advanced while the S&P 500 finished with fractional losses.

Spain was in the spotlight Thursday after selling 3 billion euros of 10-year bonds, with yields below the 5% level that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have committed to lending to euro-zone countries. A bond auction with yields above 5% wouldn't immediately trigger EU assistance to Spain but would signal concerns over the country's ability to raise financing in international markets.

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The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2351, +0.0052, +0.4228%) rose 0.5% to $1.2365.

Also, U.K. retail sales grew more strongly than anticipated in May.

Economic reports to come include the June Philly Fed index and May leading indicators at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Of companies in the spotlight, BP /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 31.64, -0.21, -0.66%) shares edged up 1%. After meeting President Obama Wednesday and agreeing to set up a $20 billion fund and stop at least three dividend payments, BP CEO Tony Hayward will appear before a House Energy and Commerce panel, with the executive defending charges the company acted with "carelessness and complacency," in the words of Rep. Henry Waxman.

Oil futures dropped 41 cents to $78.31 a barrel, while gold futures were stronger by around $13 an ounce.

Asian benchmarks were split, with the Nikkei 225 shedding 0.7% while the Hang Seng and Kospi Composite managed small advances.

The Stoxx Europe 600 advanced 0.5% in early afternoon trade.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.


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