U.S. stock futures extended their losses following the report
that weekly jobless claims rose to 354,000 - more than the expected
increase to 340,000, according to a poll of economists by
MarketWatch. The level of initial claims was still consistent with
an improving labor market, however, market sentiment was still grim
following the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee
meeting and Ben Bernanke's speech Wednesday afternoon. The Fed
indicated that it was optimistic about its outlook on the U.S.
economy and signaled that it may reduce the government's bond
buying program as early as this year. Weak manufacturing data from
China also weighed on stocks as well as on commodities.
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