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US futures little changed after jobless claims dip

US stock futures are little changed after the government reported that weekly claims for unemployment benefits fell last week.

KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 11 points to 16,349 an hour before the opening bell. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures have given up a point to 1,863. Nasdaq futures are down 3 points to 3,588.

RITE AID: Shares of Rite Aid are surging 9 percent before the opening bell after the retailer topped Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter on Thursday. Rite Aid also announced the acquisition of RediClinic and said it plans to expand the Texas chain of health clinics.

JOBS: The Labor Department said that the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to 300,000, the lowest level in nearly seven years. The less-volatile four-week average dropped, too.

Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week than at any point since the Great Recession started in December 2007.

ASIA: Stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai climbed on plans to link the exchanges, which would expand access to Chinese companies for foreign investors. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.5 percent and the Shanghai Composite added 1.4 percent.

In Japan, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock average ended the trading day essentially unchanged.

EUROPE: Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 slipped 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.67 percent from 2.69 percent late Wednesday. The price of crude oil fell 23 cents to $103.37 a barrel. Gold rose $16.50 to $1,332.40 an ounce

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