Stock futures around the world responded favorably on Thursday to reports that first-time unemployment claims fell more than expected this week.
The news on the labor front was encouraging because only a week ago, investors were dismayed when unemployment claims shot up far more than expected to around 500,000. This week, 473,000 workers filed for first-time benefits, marking a decrease of 31,000.
It will be important to see if a more permanent downward trend can be established in the area of unemployment claims, which have remained stubbornly high throughout the so-called recovery. However, after the bad news investors saw earlier this week from the real estate sector, anything resembling economic promise is being welcomed.
Stock futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average started the morning in positive territory, but later struggled to stay there. The NASDAQ 100 was also down a couple of points in late morning, indicating that investors will require more than just a week of somewhat promising unemployment data to have their faith fully restored in the markets.
Overseas, stock futures were doing well in general. For example, stock futures for all major European exchanges, including the DAX and IBEX 35, were up, while futures on the Asian markets were basically holding steady without major changes.