Disappointing reports on durable goods orders, consumer confidence and home prices have weighed on domestic markets this week, while ongoing concerns about a growth slowdown in China has added pressure on world markets.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 24 fell to 359,000. The forecast was for 350,000, but the jobless claims report was still at a four-year low.
European stocks dropped in afternoon trading and Asian markets ended lower.
The national average gasoline price rose a penny to $3.921 per gallon.
The dollar was down against the Japanese yen, but strengthened against the euro and British pound.
Oil for May delivery fell 39 cents to $105.02 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery was up $3.10 to $1,661 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was up, dropping yields to 2.18% from 2.20% late Wednesday.
Earnings reports (confirmed releases): BBY-Best Buy (earnings consensus $2.15), TIBX-TIBCO Software (0.19), FCE-Forest City Enterprises (0.32), SHAW-Shaw Group (0.45), JOSB-JOS A Bank Clothiers (1.58), WOR-Worthington Industries (0.35), NAT-Nordic American Tankers Ltd. (-0.33), CASC-Cascade (1.09), MOV-Movado Group (0.10), XRTX-Xyratex Ltd. (0.26), MAPP-MAP Pharmaceuticals (-0.31).
0830 ET Weekly initial unemployment claims expected +2,000 to 350,000, previous -5,000 to 348,000. Weekly continuing claims expected -2,000 to 3.350 million, previous -9,000 to 3.352 million.
0830 ET Revised Q4 U.S. GDP expected no change at +3.0% annualized, previous +3.0% annualized. Q4 personal consumption, previous +2.1%. Q4 GDP price index, previous +0.9%. Q4 core PCE, previous +1.3% q/q.
1030 ET Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker delivers introductory remarks at the Richmond Fed’s 2012 credit markets symposium on “Reviving the Credit Markets.”
1215 ET Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart speaks on “The European economic crisis and how it affects you” at a panel discussion at Emory University in Atlanta.
1245 ET Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers a lecture (4 of 4) at George Washington University School of Business on “The Federal Reserve and its Role in Today’s Economy.”
1300 ET Treasury auctions $29 billion 7-year T-notes.
1300 ET Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser speaks on the economic outlook to business leaders at the Rotary Club of Wilmington, DE.
1630 ET Weekly money supply report and Fed balance sheet.
1845 ET Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks to bankers and students from the University of North Carolina School of Law’s Center for Banking and Finance.