Thursday, March 31, 2011

US Stock Futures Drop After Jobless Claims Data, DryShips (NASDAQ: DRYS) Eyed

US stock-index futures dropped on Thursday as weaker-than-expected inital claims data dampened investor sentiment. 

At 8:47 am ET, the S&P 500 futures declined 2.50 points to 1,323.50. The Dow Jones Industrial average futures slipped 10 points to 12,292. The Nasdaq Composite futures retreated 3.50 points to 2,335.

A release by Department of Labor on Thursday showed number of Americans filing first- time claims for unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to 388,000 in the week ending March 26. Economists expected jobless claims to rise to 383,000. The four-week average of seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims, a less volatile gauge, increased 3,250 to 394,500. Continuing claims for the week ending March 19 fell 51,000 to 3.71 million.

DryShips, Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) reported that its fourth-quarter net income rose to $99.74 million or $0.29 per share, from $9.60 million or $0.02 per share in the prior-year quarter. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 24 cents per share in the latest quarter. Total revenues for the quarter increased to $215.82 million from $196.43 million in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 26 cents per share on revenue of $221.12 million.

After Wednesday's closing bell, Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS)  reported that its third-quarter earnings more than doubled to $542.1 million, or $1.21 a share, from $222.6 million, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue increased to $2.21 billion from $1.73 billion a year ago. Analysts, on average, expected company to earn $1.06 a share on revenue of $2.3 billion. 

European stocks were little changed in afternoon trade. At 13:38 pm London time, the UK FTSE slipped 9.28 points or 0.16% to 5,939.02. The German DAX rose 0.02% while French CAC decreased 0.38%.

Asian stocks finished higher. The Nikkei 225 gained 46.31 points or 0.48% to 9,755.10. The Hang Seng index of Hong Kong climbed 76.09 points or 0.32% to 23,527.52.

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