NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures fell Thursday as a sell-off that began the previous day with the release of Federal Reserve minutes gained momentum on troublesome economic data from Europe.
Dow Jones industrial futures fell 13 points to 13,876. The broader S&P futures gave up 2.1 points to 1,505. Nasdaq futures fell 7.75 points to 2,729.75.
Business in the European Union economic block slowed in February, providing a strong indication that a downturn that began last year will continue into 2013.
If the data from the monthly purchasing managers' index — a gauge of business activity — proves reliable, there will be more pressure on European governments that are reeling from falling tax revenue and serious unemployment.
New data released Thursday in the U.S. suggests the employment picture is still in a slow recovery mode.
The Labor Department said that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits jumped by 20,000 last week. Trends still suggest that modest hiring is ongoing, but the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 8,000 to 360,750, the highest in six weeks.
The Labor Department also said that the consumer price index has risen 1.6 percent in the 12 months ending in January, down from a 2.9 percent pace a year ago. That will give the U.S. Federal Reserve some room to maneuver without undue concern over inflation.