Stock futures fall from highs on mixed economic news

@CNNMoneyInvest December 22, 2011: 8:46 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were set to open higher on Thursday, as investors weighed improving jobs data with a weaker final reading on economic growth.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were all higher ahead of the opening bell, but the indicators came off their earlier highs. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The government reported that weekly initial jobless claims fell to 364,000, or 4,000 fewer than a week earlier. Economists polled by Briefing.com had expected the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits to have risen to 380,000.

But a third estimate of gross domestic product showed that the economy is growing at a slower clip than many expected. Gross domestic product grew at an annualized pace of just 1.8% last quarter, slower than the 2% measured in the previous reading.

Reports on consumer sentiment and leading economic indicators are on tap after the market opens.

It's been a volatile week for the market, and swings are likely to continue as trading volume remains light going into the holidays.

Stocks ended the session mixed Wednesday. The Dow and S&P 500 barely finished in positive territory, after falling nearly 1% on fears over the health of European banks and worse-than-expected readings on the housing market.

The Nasdaq trimmed some of the day's losses, but closed down 1% after most software stocks dropped dramatically, following Oracle's surprisingly weak quarterly earnings released Tuesday night.

World markets: European stocks were higher in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 1.3%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany gained 1.2% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) added 1.5%.

On Wednesday, markets in Europe popped after the European Central Bank announced it would inject €489.19 billion ($643.18 billion) into the region's banks to address the eurozone debt crisis.

Investors initially read that €489.19 billion figure -- higher than the expected €300 billion -- as a positive, sending European markets up sharply. But later in the session, investors questioned whether the large sum meant that European banks could be in more dire straits than initially expected.

Asian markets ended lower. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) and the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong shed 0.2%, while Japan's Nikkei (N225) fell 0.8%.

White House: Congress inaction threatens economy

Companies: Shares of Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) rose 2% in premarket trading Thursday, following reports that the company will consider a proposal to sell its stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group. The transaction would be worth approximately $17 billion. Yahoo had risen as high as 6% after the market closed on Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the Justice Department announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) over discriminatory lending practices at Countrywide Financial. Attorney General Eric Holder said a federal probe found discrimination against minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost strength against the euro and the British pound, but was flat against the Japanese yen.

Oil for February delivery rose 30 cents to $98.97 a barrel.

Gold futures for February delivery rose 20 cents to $1,612.10 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged lower, pushing the yield up slightly to 1.95% from 1.92% late Wednesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,814.94 -2.96 -0.02%
Nasdaq 4,758.25 3.36 0.07%
S&P 500 2,067.03 -2.38 -0.12%
Treasuries 2.26 -0.05 -2.16%
Data as of 6:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 117.60 -1.02 -0.86%
Bank of America Corp... 17.10 -0.08 -0.47%
Huntington Bancshare... 10.11 -0.07 -0.69%
Kinder Morgan Inc 40.75 -0.04 -0.10%
Facebook Inc 75.63 1.62 2.19%
Data as of 4:05pm ET
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.96%3.98%
15 yr fixed3.07%3.09%
5/1 ARM3.20%3.23%
30 yr refi3.96%4.07%
15 yr refi3.08%3.17%
Rate data provided
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