A surprisingly grim jobless figures report spooked traders on Thursday, causing substantial drops in most of the major indexes. For the week ending on September 18, the advance seasonally adjusted number of initial jobless claims was 465,000, up 12,000 from last week's 453,000.
Analysts had expected that number to remain steady; the increase in claims reflects a job market that remains weak even as companies build up a reserve of cash, pay down debts and increase productivity.
Dow Jones Industrial Average index futures dropped 85 points to 10,588, while S&P 500 futures slipped 10 points to 1,119.8 at 9:32 a.m. EST. Nasdaq 100 index futures lost 12.5 points to 1,967.
Europe and the Asian indexes were equally grim – FTSE 100 index futures dropped 81 points to 5,462, while Nikkei 225 index futures slid 40 points to 9,480.
"The economic recovery remains painfully slow and the proof of this is companies are still reluctant to hire," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York, told Bloomberg News. "Those who lost their jobs in this recession will have to wait because the economy’s wheels are not turning fast enough to employ them."
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