Bloomberg News

U.S. Stock Futures Trim Losses on Jobless Claims, Housing Data

November 17, 2011

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures trimmed losses after initial jobless claims decreased and housing starts topped forecasts, bolstering optimism in the economy.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 1,228.2 at 8:33 a.m. in New York after losing as much as 0.8 percent.

Applications for jobless benefits decreased 5,000 in the week ended Nov. 12 to 388,000, the lowest level since April, Labor Department figures showedn. Economists forecast 395,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

Housing starts decreased 0.3 percent to a 628,000 annual rate from September’s 630,000 pace that was slower than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop to 610,000. Building permits, a proxy for future construction, increased 10.9 percent.

Earlier losses in future followed an increase in Spanish and French borrowing costs, which fueled concern the European debt crisis is worsening.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.7 percent yesterday as Fitch Ratings said further contagion from Europe’s debt turmoil will pose a risk to American banks and amid concern higher oil prices will hamper economic growth.

The S&P 500 has rebounded 13 percent from its 2011 low on Oct. 3, while still down 9.3 percent from a three-year high at the end of April. The index has swung between gains and losses on a year-to-date basis since Oct. 27.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael P. Regan at

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