U.S. stock index futures held their losses Thursday, despite a better-than-expected jobless claims report, as investors continued to be nervous over some weak economic data from Europe and amid increasing concerns of a slowdown in China.
Futures were lower all morning after a report that showed China's manufacturing sector activity slumped in March for the fifth-straight monthwhile euro zone composite PMI showed an unexpected contraction, led by a decline in French and German factory activity.
Adding to woes, Portugal was hit by a 24-hour strike in protestat austerity measures. Meanwhile, Italy’s largest trade union has also called for a strike against a reform of the labor market in the country.
“If you look at what happened after the last LTRO [Long-Term Refinancing Operation], Portugal was one of the few markets that didn’t participate in the nice rally in bonds that you saw in some other countries — Italy and Spain for example,” Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING said. “It does look as if people are pushing towards the idea of a bailout later on in the year, maybe the third quarter of this year.”Page 1 of 3 | Next Page