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Jobless Claims Headlines Thursday Market Events

A weekly report on U.S. initial state jobless claims is expected to show the labor market is growing modestly but still hasn’t ignitedd enough to lower a painfully high jobless rate. The number of Americans last week seeking unemployment insurance is expected to be reported at 350,000, consistent with slow, steady growth in payroll jobs. Another report is expected to show producer prices rose marginally but stayed within the comfort zone of the Federal Reserve’s expectations for inflation. The overall PPI is expected to be up 0.7 percent while the closely watched core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, is expected to be up only 0.2 percent.

President Obama travels to Capitol Hill to lunch with Senate Republicans and discuss budget and economic issues. The Democratic president is trying to cobble together what he calls a “common sense caucus” among lawmakers to help resolve U.S. budget woes and push his legislative agenda.

Large U.S. banks find out if their plans to increase dividends and buy back more shares were approved or rejected by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. central bank’s decision will come after the regulator determines whether the banks can afford the payouts while still maintaining a sufficient capital buffer during a severe economic downturn. Some banks may have lowered their payout requests after the results of stress tests disclosed last week.

United Tech (NYSE:UTX), the world’s largest maker of elevators and air conditioners, meets with analysts and investors to provide details on its outlook for 2013, when it expects a solid rise in earnings. When United Tech executives last spoke to investors in January, they reported a bit of a pickup in the U.S. housing market, sparking demand for its home air-conditioning systems.

Molycorp (NYSE:MCP) is expected to post a fourth quarter loss, dragged down by an impairment charge over its 2012 takeover of Neo Materials. Analysts forecast a loss of 31 cents per share, compared to a profit of 23 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Investors will be looking for signs that the company is getting back on track, after a series of disappointing quarters as the miner ramps up its newly modernized Mountain Pass processing facilities. Close attention will be paid to interim CEO Constantine Karayannopoulos’ plans for Molycorp and signs he may be looking to make his role permanent.


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