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Stock futures dip after jobless applications rise

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock indexes were headed for a flat opening today after the government said that more people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

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First-time applications for unemployment rose to 454,000, the highest level since late October. Economists had expected the number to rise to 407,000. Snowstorms in some parts of the country forced companies to lay off workers.

Amazon.com Inc., AT&T Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are among the several large companies scheduled to report by the end of the day.

Netflix Inc. announced after the market closed Wednesday that it beat analyst expectations last quarter. The movie-rental company now has more than 20 million subscribers. Netflix jumped 14 percent in pre-market trading to $209.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,929. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 2, or 0.2 percent, to 1,296. Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 1, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,317.

At 8:30 a.m., the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will release its final report on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. The commission is expected to say that the crisis was avoidable and that the Bush and Clinton administrations bear some responsibility for its cause.

The National Association of Realtors will issue its report on pending home sales in December at 9 a.m.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed yesterday at 11,985.4 after breaking above 12,000 during the trading day for the first time in two and a half years. The index has gained nearly 85 percent since its low in March 2009.

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