First-time filings for unemployment insurance fell by 8,000 in the latest week to 444,000. The 444,000 filings was less than consensus estimates of 472,000.
Other economic data out this morning has businesses in the U.S. slashing their inventory levels as inventories fell 0.5% in September. Economists were looking for business inventories to fall 0.3%.
Both of these numbers were better than economists had expected, but the numbers still indicate that of a slow economy.
Stock futures lower
Stock futures are slipping lower this morning with S&P futures trading down 3 points at 1,139. NASDAQ futures are down 21 points at 1,574 and Dow futures are off 25 points at 9,815.
Applied Materials slips in pre-market
Shares of semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) are trading down 5.5% from yesterday's close of $40.71 at $38.45 in pre-market trading. Last night, AMAT reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $82 million or $0.10 a share (including charges). Excluding one-time charges, net income for the quarter was $22 million, or $0.03 a share. Many analysts had expected the company to report earnings (excluding charges) of $0.04.
AMAT's latest quarterly revenue fell to $1.26 billion from $2.92 billion during the same period last year. Gross margins shrunk to 37.1%, down from 41.6% in the previous quarter and much lower than the year-ago levels of 51.7%.