- Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures slip after jobless data

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Simon Kennedy and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures edged lower after the government reported jobless claims totalled 388,000 last week, leaving investors on the fence ahead of Friday’s payrolls data.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,280, -6.00, -0.05%)  fell 5 points to 12,281, and Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,323, -1.40, -0.11%)  shed 2 points to 1,321.9.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,330, -4.50, -0.19%)  slipped 2.5 points to 2,332.

Search for clarity in Libya goes on

In his address to the nation Monday night, President Obama didn’t fully explain the U.S. military involvement against Libya. But WSJ's Nathan Hodge says until Col. Gadhafi is deposed, it's hard for anyone to outline exactly what might happen.

U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,337, -13.96, -0.11%)  closing up about 72 points at an almost six-week high after an encouraging report on private-sector employment.

Later in the session, investors will get the Chicago purchasing managers index for March and factory orders for February.

But the highlight will come Friday with the release of nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate for March. Analysts polled by MarketWatch expect the addition of 185,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate is seen ticking up to 9% from 8.9%.

Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin, said investors may decide just to wait on the sidelines until Friday’s payrolls figures, but added that Wall Street could also see a little bit of weakness due to events in Europe.

“There might be some degree of apprehension there over the Irish stress tests,” Lenhoff said. The stress-test results will be released later in the European day and could be viewed as giving a hint over the outcome of broader stress tests for Europe that will be released in June. Read more on Ireland's stress tests.

In addition, higher-than-expected euro-zone inflation could spur some jitters on Wall Street, he added.

The dollar was lower after the euro-zone inflation data, with the euro rising 0.6% to $1.4205, while the dollar slipped 0.4% against the yen to ¥82.847.

Oil prices advanced as the dollar weakened. Light crude for May delivery rose $1.91 to $106.18 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

On the corporate front, Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.51, -0.11, -0.41%)  said in a blog post late Wednesday that it is filing a formal complaint against Google Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 585.18, +3.34, +0.57%)  with the European Commission as part of the commission’s investigation into Google’s dominance in online search. Read more about Microsoft and Google.

Among its concerns, Microsoft said Google is restricting rival search engines from properly accessing YouTube for their search results.

Also late Wednesday, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.a/quotes/nls/brk.a (BRK.A 126,299, -1,804, -1.41%)   /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 84.17, -1.29, -1.51%)  said David Sokol resigned from the firm after it came to light that he had bought millions of dollars of Lubrizol Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!lz/quotes/nls/lz (LZ 134.01, 0.00, 0.00%)  shares before urging Warren Buffett to buy the company.

Sokol had been considered a possible successor to Buffett. Read more on Sokol's resignation.

Shares of Mosaic Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!mos/quotes/nls/mos (MOS 79.83, -0.62, -0.77%)  will also be in focus after the fertilizer company said its fiscal third-quarter profit more than doubled, but revenue fell short of market expectations.

CarMax Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!kmx/quotes/nls/kmx (KMX 32.22, -2.38, -6.87%)  reported a fourth-quarter profit of 39 cents a share, topping the analyst consensus forecast compiled by FactSet Research by a penny.

Among international markets, European indexes were mostly lower after the euro-zone inflation data, with the French CAC 40 /quotes/comstock/30t!i:px1 (FR:PX1 3,989, -35.26, -0.88%)  falling 0.6% in afternoon trading. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed up 0.5%.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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