US stock futures drop after jobs data

NEW YORK (AP) ? U.S. stock futures fell Thursday after a report showed that more workers joined the unemployment lines last week.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits rose last week to 414,000, the government reported Thursday. Economists had expected a slight fall to a seasonally-adjusted 405,000. The prior week’s estimate of new jobless claims was also revised higher.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits are a closely-watched figure on Wall Street. Rising unemployment claims can add to concerns that the job market is stalled and the U.S. economy is headed for another recession.

About an hour before the market opened, Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 78 points, or 0.7 percent, to 11,337. S&P 500 futures fell 10, or 0.8 percent, to 1,188. Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 11, or 0.5 percent, to 2,233.

Each index had posted slight gains ahead of the jobs data.

Not all of the economic data was negative, however. American exports of cars, airplanes and other goods reached an all-time high in July, the Commerce Department reported. Economists suggest that the jump in exports may point to future growth in the U.S. economy.

Thursday also brings two closely-watched speeches on the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will give a speech in the afternoon detailing his outlook for the U.S. economy. President Barack Obama will appear before Congress tonight and lay out his jobs plan.

A broad rally broke a three-day losing streak in the stock market Wednesday as fears about Europe’s debt crisis ebbed. Stocks rose sharply after a German court backed the country’s role in bailing out other European nations. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 200 points in the first hour of trading and continued to climb throughout the day, ending with a gain of 275 points.