Stocks lose gains on jobs report

By staff

NEW YORK ( -- Stocks were set to open slightly higher Thursday after the release of a worse-than-expected jobless-claims report evaporated earlier gains.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), Nasdaq (COMP) and S&P 500 (SPX) futures were only slightly higher, having lost bigger gains immediately after the release of the government report. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

Stocks were little changed at the end of a choppy session Wednesday following mixed economic reports. In addition, investors considered BP's decision to cancel its quarterly dividend and establish a $20 billion fund to cover damages related to the Gulf oil spill.

The British oil company will be in focus again Thursday as chief executive Tony Hayward is scheduled to testify before a House committee in the afternoon.

Economy: The weekly jobless claims report from the Department of Labor showed a gain of 472,000 initial claims in the week ended June 12.

This was much higher than expected. Economists had forecast 450,000 Americans to have filed new claims for unemployment last week, according to consensus. But this was based on the initial report of 452,000 in the previous week, a figure that the government upwardly revised to 460,000.

The Consumer Price Index, the government's main inflation gauge, rose 0.2% in May, trumping expectations of a slight decline. A consensus of economists surveyed by had expected to show that prices fell 0.1% in May after falling 0.1% the month before.

Excluding energy and food prices, the so-called core CPI, prices ticked up by 0.1% last month, after being unchanged in April. This report matched expectations.

After the market opens, reports on leading economic indicators and manufacturing in Philadelphia are scheduled to come out.

World markets: European shares were up in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.8%, the CAC 40 in France edged up 0.9% and Germany's DAX added 0.6%.

In Asia, the major indexes ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei finished with a 0.7% decline, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4%.

Dollar and commodities: The dollar eased against the euro, yen and British pound.

U.S. light crude oil for July delivery slid 78 cents to $76.89 a barrel. COMEX gold's August contract added $15.30 to $1,245.80 per ounce.

Bonds: Treasury prices inched up, with the 10-year note's yield down to 3.25% from 3.29% the day before. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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