Investors are bracing for the latest unemployment report due out Friday.
The Labor Department is expected to report that employers cut at least 600,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate is predicted to rise to just below eight percent.
Meanwhile, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week.
The Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell by 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 639,000 in the week ended Feb. 28 from an upwardly revised 670,000 the prior week. Analysts had forecast new claims at 650,000 last week.
But analysts say claims are still at high levels associated with a severe recession.
Source: The Associated Press