NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures slid Thursday as prospects for a budget deal and a stream of healthy economic news upped the odds that the U.S. will begin weaning the economy off of its aggressive monetary policies.
Dow Jones industrial futures are down 21 points to 15,815. S&P futures have lost 2.3 points to 1,778.50. Nasdaq futures are down 1.25 points to 3,469.25.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits surged last week, though that may be attributable to delays from the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week average rose 6,000 to 328,750, which is about where the U.S. was before the recession.
There was welcome news for retailers, which can be seen as a proxy for the mindset of Americans regarding the economy.
Consumers ratcheted up spending on appliances, furniture and cars in November. Spending has been muted for months heading into the crucial holiday shopping period.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that retail sales rose 0.7 percent, the biggest gain in five months. October sales were also revised higher.
That is almost certainly attributable to a better jobs picture. The U.S. reported last week that employers added 203,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7 percent.
The government has been snapping up $85 billion in bonds per month in an attempt to keep markets fluid and interest rates low. The growing consensus is that the economy is growing at a rate that would allow the U.S. to ease back on that support.
The U.S. also reports October business inventories at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Stocks moving sharply in premarket trading Thursday include Lululemon and Facebook.
Facebook was added to the Standard & Poor's 500 index, giving shares a 4 percent boost before the opening bell.
Lululemon slumped by almost 9 percent after its outlook spooked investors. The yoga and active lifestyles store did beat expectations for the most recent quarter.
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