Worries about rising unemployment have stock market investors on edge.
Stock futures fell ahead of the June unemployment report set for release before the market opens Thursday. Economists are expecting an increase.
Ovserseas markets were also lower after a report showed unemployment in the 16 countries that use the euro rose to a 10-year high in May. That reinforced concerns that any recovery in the global economy will take time.
The U.S. Labor Department's unemployment figures for last month are due out at 8:30 a,m. EDT. Economists expect the nation's jobless rate rose to 9.6 percent last month from 9.4 percent in May. That would mark a 26-year high.
The rate is seen as a key barometer in the nation's economic recovery. A moderating unemployment rate would provide further evidence that the worst of the recession is over and the economy is starting to improve.
Ahead of the U.S. jobs report and the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 48, or 0.57 percent, to 8,400. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures declined 6.70, or 0.73 percent, to 912.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 8.75, or 0.59 percent, to 1,470.00.
Investors will also get a reading on factory orders Thursday morning. Orders to U.S. factories likely increased in May. Economists project factory orders rose 0.8 percent in May after a 0.7 percent increase in April. The Commerce Department will release the report Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT.
Markets kicked off the third quarter on Wednesday with gains after getting some reassuring data on manufacturing and housing. Traders were encouraged by a report showing more stable manufacturing activity and another indicating the fourth straight monthly rise in pending home sales.
The Dow rose by 0.7 percent. The S&P gained 0.4 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.55 percent from 3.54 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.18 percent from 0.16 percent late Wednesday.
The dollar rose against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.6 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX index declined 1.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.3 percent.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
This program aired on July 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.