U.S. stock futures muted; Jobless claims & retail sales data on tap

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Futures pointing to a muted trading session

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a flat session early Thursday following strong gains for Wall Street in the previous session.

At around 5:10 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow fell 7 points to 34,812. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures gave away 20 points, or 0.13% to 15,484 while S&P 500 futures were little changed.

On Wednesday, the Dow rallied 236.82 points, or 0.7% to finish the session at 34,814.39. The S&P 500 index gained 37.65 points, or 0.9% to end 4,480.70 while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 123.77 points, or 0.8% to close at 15,161.53.

Jobless claims data eyed

On the economic data, traders are awaiting the release of the initial jobless claims report, 8:30 a.m. ET, which covers the week ended September 11.

Market analysts expect the report to show the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased to 323,000 from the pandemic low of 310,000 reported during the prior week.

Although initial jobless claims are now far below the 6.8 million peak registered in March 2020, they are still stubbornly high than the pre-pandemic average of about 200,000.

Continuing claims for the week ended Sept. 4 are seen coming in at 2.740 million down from 2.783 million during the prior week.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is also scheduled to publish its August retail sales report before the opening bell.

Economists polled by Bloomberg expect the report to show a back-to-back monthly fall in spending, with overall sales projected to have slipped by 0.7% last month following a 1.1% slump in July.

Goldman Sachs buys GreenSky for $2.2 billion

Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) has agreed to acquire GreenSky (NASDAQ: GSKY) for $2.24 billion as the Wall Street bank pushes further into consumer finance.

Under the terms of the all-stock deal, GreenSky shareholders will receive 0.03 shares of Goldman stock for each GSKY share they own, which works out to $12.11 a share based on the stock’s closing price on Tuesday.

The deal, which is subject to approval by GreenSky shareholders, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of next year.

GreenSky works through independent dentists and doctors as well as retailers like Home Depot (NYSE: HD) to arrange loans for such things as construction products or cosmetic surgery.

Shares in GreenSky surged 53.15% to close Wednesday’s regular session at $11.90 following the announcement.