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Thursday's market will be dominated by three events:
•Earnings from Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), due before the open. Wal-Mart was up 1.5% to $50.51 today and climbed an additional 0.5% to $50.77 after hours.
•The weekly report on unemployment claims from the Labor Department.
•The July report on foreclosures from RealtyTrac.
The Dutch economy lost 93,000 jobs, or 1.2 percent, over the past 12 months, the biggest loss on record.
The Dutch economy shrank 5.1 percent in the second quarter, official figures show.
The Federal Reserve has suggested that the worst of the US recession is over.
It said that while "economic activity is likely to remain weak for a time", it had begun to "level off".
The central bank's comments came as it decided to keep US interest rates on hold at between 0% and 0.25%, as widely expected by commentators.
The central bank added that the current low levels of interest rates will likely continue "for an extended period" to aid the continuing recovery.
Its comments came amid growing signs of an upturn in the US economy.
While US unemployment rose again last month, the 247,000 job cuts were far fewer than analysts had expected.
I await the impending implosion...
Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly fell in July from June, a government report showed on Thursday, casting a shadow over an anticipated rebound in consumer spending in the third quarter.
In employment, the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week, while continuing claims fell sharply.
The Labor Department says new claims increased to a seasonally adjusted 558,000, from 554,000 the previous week. Analysts expected new claims to drop to 545,000, according to Thomson Reuters.
U.S. home loans failed at a record pace in July despite ongoing federal and state programs to avoid foreclosures, which have severely strained housing and the economy.
Foreclosure activity jumped 7 percent in July from June and 32 percent from a year earlier as one in every 355 households with a loan got a foreclosure filing, RealtyTrac said on Thursday.
I bet the second hand stores and woodwill are booming.