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Stocks point to slightly lower open ahead of data

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[May 29, 2008]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street is pointing to a modestly lower open Thursday ahead of readings on unemployment claims and first-quarter economic growth.

HardwareInvestors were waiting to see whether the two reports, both scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. EDT, indicate that the economy is weakening or recovering.

Economists forecast that the Labor Department will report initial jobless claims rose by 5,000 last week to 370,000, and predict the Commerce Department will revise its reading on first-quarter GDP to an annual rate of 1.0 percent, up from a previous estimate of 0.6 percent.

In addition to economic data, Wall Street will be paying attention to a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in Basel, Switzerland, on transferring risk and financial stability.

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A day after the stock market rose moderately after a better-than-expected report on durable goods orders, stock futures contracts traded slightly lower. Dow Jones industrial average futures slipped 15, or 0.12 percent, to 12,584, and Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 1.00, or 0.07 percent, to 1,390.50. Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 1.00, or 0.05 percent, to 2,004.00.

The dollar rose against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude fell 90 cents to $130.13 per barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At 10:30 a.m. EDT, the Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report on U.S. oil supply; analysts predict that crude inventories rose last week and gasoline inventories fell.

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In corporate news, Costco Wholesale Corp. said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 32 percent, above analyst expectations, as customers flocked to its warehouse clubs to find bargains on food and toiletries.

Meanwhile, Bear Stearns Cos. shareholders are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. EDT to vote on JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s acquisition of the investment bank for less than $10 a share.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average closed up 3.03 percent. In midday trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.67 percent, Germany's DAX index advanced 0.30 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.41 percent.


On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com/

[Associated Press; By MADLEN READ]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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