New York - US stock market futures fell on Thursday with the government reporting a slight increase in unemployment benefit applications last week.
Dow Jones industrial average futures gave up 26 points to 13,130. Standard & Poor's 500 futures dipped 3.7 points to 1,408.60, and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 8 points to 2,773.25.
The Labor Department said the four-week average for people seeking unemployment assistance rose a slight 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 372,000. It was the second straight week of increases, although applications remain lower than they were five weeks ago.
The data provided more evidence that the job market's recovery remains modest and uneven, although there are signs that hiring could improve slightly this month.
European markets surrendered early gains after spending the early part of their session higher. The declines came as Greece continued its campaign seeking more time to address its debt problems, and data showed the eurozone is firmly in recession.
There was also more disconcerting news out of China.
China's manufacturing activity slumped to a nine-month low in August, a survey showed Thursday, which could force the Beijing to enact further measures to prop up the economy.
The one-time burgeoning solar industry in China is getting hit hard because of overproduction and pending tariffs in both the US and Europe.
JinkoSolar posted a second-quarter loss on Thursday, following several other major producers in the sector.
Many investors bought into Asian markets on Thursday on the belief that Beijing will act soon with new stimulus measures. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index led gains with a 1.2 percent rise, while mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 index was up 0.5 percent.
US stocks to watch include Hewlett-Packard Co., down 4.3
percent premarket after the world's largest PC and printer maker reported weak third-quarter results and offered a downbeat outlook. Big Lots Inc. plunged 17 percent after cutting guidance as second-quarter profit dropped 38 percent.
Tea and organic food maker The Hain Celestial Group Inc. shot up 13 percent after posting an 82 percent spike in fourth-quarter profit and said it will buy Britain's Premier Foods line of jams, jellies and chocolates. - Sapa-AP