US futures rise on jobs, inflation reports

AP News
Posted: Dec 13, 2012 9:01 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose Thursday after government data showed that unemployment claims dropped sharply last week and inflation is being held in check.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 10 points to 13,240. The broader S&P futures tacked on 0.20 points to 1,427. Nasdaq futures rose 3.25 points to 2,673.50.

Applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, the second-lowest total this year.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 27,000 to 381,500.

The data on declining unemployment applications, which suggests that companies are cutting fewer jobs, comes after the Federal Reserve for the first time ever tied its interest rate policy to unemployment as it aggressively attacks joblessness in the U.S.

The Fed said Wednesday that it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero at least until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5 percent and inflation rises to 2.5 percent.

The Labor Department also reported Thursday that wholesale prices declined for a second straight month in November, led by cheap gasoline.

In the past year, wholesale prices have increased 1.5 percent. That's the lowest annual pace in four months.

That can lead to more consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of the economy, and the government on Thursday reported an uptick in retail sales for November.

Americans spent more on everything from cars to building supplies. Yet one troubling aspect of the report was a decline in the money consumers spent at department stores.

That is bad news at the start of the holiday shopping season, but the Commerce Department said that sales for non-store retailers, including online shopping, rose 3 percent.