Stock futures edge higher after surprise drop in weekly unemployment claimsBy Stephen Bernard, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Stock futures inch up after drop in jobless claims
NEW YORK — Stock futures edged higher Thursday after a surprise dip in weekly unemployment claims and relatively strong monthly retail sales reports.
However, gains were being kept somewhat in check as traders prepare for the government’s key monthly employment report Friday and PepsiCo Inc. kicked off earnings season with mixed results.
The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 last week to 445,000. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were predicting a slight increase in claims.
Claims have been falling steadily in recent weeks, but still indicate employers aren’t necessarily ramping up their hiring. Payroll company ADP said Wednesday that private employers slashed jobs in September for the first time in seven months.
Traders might be somewhat overlooking the weekly report on unemployment claims because the Labor Department releases its monthly data Friday. Economists expect the unemployment rate climbed to 9.7 percent last month from 9.6 percent in August.
High unemployment remains a main obstacle to stronger economic growth. Worries about jobs had been keeping a lid on spending in recent months, though retailers reported Thursday that sales improved modestly in September.
Macy’s Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch and Limited Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works all reported better-than-expected monthly sales.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 43, or 0.4 percent, to 10,949. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 4.70, or 0.4 percent, to 1,160.40, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 5.75, or 0.3 percent, to 2,010.00.
PepsiCo said its third-quarter profit jumped in part on revenue gains following its acquisition of its two largest bottlers earlier this year. But its earnings still fell short of forecasts, and the company narrowed its earnings outlook to a level below analysts’ forecasts.
Alcoa Inc. will be the first component of the Dow Jones industrial average to report earnings when it releases results after the market closes.
PepsiCo and Alcoa provide a glimpse into how companies were able to deal with slowing economic growth over the summer and provide insight into where corporate executives believe the economy is headed. Analysts have said earnings outlooks and revenue growth will be vital to propelling stocks higher in the next few weeks as hundreds of companies report results.
Shares of PepsiCo fell $1.72, or 2.5 percent, to $66.39 in pre-opening trading. Alcoa shares rose 17 cents to $12.54.
Limited Brands shares rose 91 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $28.50, while Abercrombie & Fitch jumped $3.10, or 8 percent, to $41.69. Macy’s dipped 1 cent to $23.69.
Bond prices remained nearly their lowest levels since January 2009 as traders expect the Federal Reserve to resume a program to buy Treasurys as part of a plan to stimulate the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.40 percent from 2.39 percent late Wednesday. Its yield is often used to help set interest rates on loans.
The dollar continued to fall against other major currencies because it would lose value if the Fed starts buying bonds again and interest rates fall further. Gold, which is considered a safe alternative to the dollar, hit a new record of $1,366.00 an ounce early Thursday before pulling back to $1,358.60 an ounce.
Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 0.5 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.1 percent.
Tags: Labor Economy, New York, North America, Unemployment Insurance, United States