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U.S. stocks were poised to open lower Thursday as commodity prices sold off for a second day and investors digested reports on the labor market and retail sales.
Stocks fell sharply Wednesday, as energy and materials stocks got slammed by a sell-off in oil and gasoline futures. That selling continued early Thursday, with oil prices down 2.6% to $95.62 a barrel.
Other commodities were also selling off in early trading, with silver futures down 5.5% to $33.58 an ounce, and gold futures dropping to 0.9% to $1488.90 an ounce.
Oil executives from Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500), Shell (RDSA), BP (BP), Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) and ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) are headed to Washington to testify before Congress.
Economy: The number of people who filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the most recent week fell to 434,000, down from the previous week but worse than economists' expectations. Initial unemployment claims have been stuck above the key 400,000 level for four weeks.
Offsetting that bad news was retail sales, which rose 0.5% in April, according to the Commerce Department. But the bulk of the gains came from increasing gas and food prices so the optimism may fade.
Companies: Companies scheduled to report quarterly results on Thursday include department store chains Kohl's (KSS, Fortune 500) and Nordstrom (JWN, Fortune 500).
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