Futures lower after consecutive days of US losses

US stock futures dip ahead of reports on US factory orders and jobless benefit claims

Associated Press
Materials companies help stocks to a slight gain
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Trader Neil Catania, left, and Mark Muller, right, confer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, July 22, 2013. Asian stocks dipped Thursday July 25, 2013 as investors prepared for a slew of earnings reports in coming days that will give a reading of how confident companies are in the outlook for major economies. Improved German business confidence boosted European markets. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are heading lower before the Labor Department releases weekly jobs numbers, setting up U.S. markets for a third consecutive day of losses.

Economists expect that the government will report that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, though hiring trends remain positive.

Dow Jones industrial futures are down 81 points to 15,419. S&P futures have lost 10.80 points to 1,673. Nasdaq futures are off 17.25 points to 3,030.75.

Also on Thursday, the government will release a report on factory orders, which most expect will show the third consecutive month of growth.

Southwest shares are edging lower after they narrowly beat Wall Street expectations for the second quarter thanks to cheaper energy prices, but profits are still down from last year.

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