Futures mixed on jobs data as Europe churns
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures wavered Thursday, with unease about Europe overshadowing another positive U.S. employment report and also some big numbers from retailers, including the world's largest.
Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 2 points to 12,576. Standard & Poor's 500 futures slipped 0.4 points to 1,322. Nasdaq composite futures fell a point to 2,556.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, suggesting steady gains in the job market.
Unemployment aid applications were a seasonally adjusted 370,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, the same as the previous week. The four-week average, which is a less volatile reading, actually fell to 375,000.
However, the increasingly likely scenario of a smaller European Union sent ripples through that continent's trading floors, and they reached to the U.S. as well.
Greece's caretaker Cabinet was sworn in Thursday and will hold power at least until next month's election, after a political deadlock made the nation's inclusion in the EU a fading reality.
A 16-member Cabinet and 300 legislators of Parliament were sworn in as well but will hold their seats for just one day before the body is dissolved for the new vote.
Collateral economic damage is already being felt by other members of the EU.
Spain was forced to pay sharply higher interest rates to raise (euro) 2.5 billion ($3.18 billion) in a medium-term debt auction Thursday, signaling the growing perception that the cost of a fractured EU could be enormous.
And shares of Bankia, which Spain nationalized last week, plunged 20 percent Thursday on a report from the newspaper El Mundo stating that depositors have withdrawn (euro) 1 billion since last Wednesday.
Bankia was formed through a merger of seven troubled regional savings banks.
Amid the rapidly evolving economic situation, British Prime Minister David Cameron pleaded with the 17-country union to sort it its currency crisis and "to make-up or it is looking at a potential break-up."
Major U.S. stock markets have wavered despite strong corporate earnings that signal a sustained rebound. That trend continued Thursday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 10.1 percent jump in first-quarter profit, topping Wall Street expectations. It's a big turnaround for the retailer, which had suffered during the economic downturn as low-income customers were hit hard by joblessness and home foreclosures.
And Sears Holdings Corp. returned to a first-quarter profit, benefiting from a gain on the sale of some stores.
Later Thursday after the market close, The Gap Inc. reports quarterly earnings.