By Saumya Vaishampayan and Tommy Stubbington
U.S. stock futures fell Thursday after data showed a strong pace of U.S. job creation in June.
About an hour ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures shed four points, or less than 0.1%, to 16,896.00. Futures were up 14 points, or 0.1%, to 16913.00 about five minutes before the data were released.
S&P 500 Index futures were little changed, down less than 0.1% to 1967.20 and Nasdaq 100 futures added three points, or 0.1%, to 3892.25. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.
U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday. Economists had expected the addition of 215,000 jobs last month. The data came a day earlier than usual because of the Fourth of July holiday.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.1% in June. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain steady at 6.3%.
The Federal Reserve watches the labor market and inflation as it sets monetary policy. While the Fed has maintained that accommodative monetary policy remains appropriate, continued strong labor-market reports could spark speculation that the central bank could raise interest rates sooner than expected.
Major indexes hit record highs on Wednesday for the second day in a row, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing just short of 17000.
Stocks in recent weeks have gotten a boost from indicators pointing to economic improvement in key parts of the world. This week, Chinese data indicated expansion in the manufacturing sector, and Thursday's reading from Automatic Data Processing and Moody's Analytics showed U.S. private-sector employers added more jobs than expected.
U.S. stock markets are set to close at 1 p.m. Thursday because of the Fourth of July holiday.
The European Central Bank left rates unchanged on Thursday, as expected. The ECB in June cut interest rates, pushing the deposit rate into negative territory for the first time, and implemented a number of liquidity measures as it seeks to revive euro-zone inflation. European shares, which were higher ahead of the ECB meeting, maintained their gains. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was 0.4% higher.
The Swedish krona plunged to a 3 1/2 -year low against the euro Thursday. Sweden's central bank surprised investors with a bigger-than-expected rate cut, its first in six months as it sought to boost the inflation rate.
In corporate news, shares of Facebook Inc. inched up 0.5%, even as the public continues to voice concerns about the social-media company's experiments with user data.