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U.S. futures were set for a lower open Thursday after a report released Thursday morning showed continued weakness in the labor market.
Economy: The number of people filing first-time unemployment claims surged to 474,000 in the latest week - its highest total in 8 months - according to a government report.
This week has centered around the ever-important monthly jobs report due out Friday morning.
Economists expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 8.8%, with employers forecasted to add 185,000 jobs in April. For the full year, economists expect 2.3 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 8.4% by year end.
Companies: Detroit giant General Motors (GM) reported a first-quarter net profit of $3.2 billion, its fifth consecutive profitable quarter. Shares fell 1% in premarket trade.
Dow component Kraft (KFT, Fortune 500) reports quarterly results on Thursday, with analysts expecting earnings of 47 cents a share.
Shares of Whole Foods (WFMI, Fortune 500) rose 5% a day after the company reported solid results after Wednesday's closing bell and raised its outlook.
Also, retailers - including Target (TGT, Fortune 500) and Macy's (M, Fortune 500) - reported a strong surge in April stores sales boosted by Easter purchases in the month. Shares of Macy's rose more than 1% and Target's stock also edged up.
Other companies reporting Thursday include Priceline.com (PCLN), Visa (V, Fortune 500) and insurance giant AIG (AIG, Fortune 500).
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