Futures slip with focus on jobless claims as Fed underwhelms

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures fell on Thursday as investors braced for data likely to show persistently high levels of weekly jobless claims, adding to concerns about an economic rebound a day after the Federal Reserve issued an underwhelming stimulus plan.

The Labor Department’s weekly report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show about 850,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended Sept. 12, a touch lower than 884,000 in the previous week, but still suggesting the labor market’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was stalling.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell also indicated a long road to “maximum employment” and said the central bank was limited in its capacity to address some of the gaps around wage growth and workforce participation.

The S&P 500 (SPX) sold off after his remarks, with the technology sector (SPLRCT), which had been recovering from a rout earlier in September, tumbling 1.6%. A broader slump in tech-related stocks halted a five-month rally in the benchmark index this month and pushed the Nasdaq into correction.

At 6:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were down 239 points, or 0.85%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 34.25 points, or 1.01%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 111.5 points, or 0.99%.

The big U.S. banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc (N:GS), Bank of America Corp (N:BAC), Citigroup Inc (N:C) and Wells Fargo & Co (N:WFC) fell about 1% in thin premarket trading.

Carnival Corp (N:CCL) dropped 3.8% after its British cruiseline P&O Cruises extended a cancellation in sailings until early 2021. Other cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean Cruises (N:RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (N:NCLH) shed about 2%.

German biotech firm BioNTech SE (O:BNTX) rose 3.1% as it said it was buying a production site from Swiss drugs giant Novartis (S:NOVN) to boost output of its potential coronavirus vaccine by several million doses.