U. S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are struggling early Thursday as euro woes continue and unemployment reports showed that jobless claims unexpectedly rose by the largest amount in three months.

Initial jobless claims jumped 25,000 in the week of May 15 to 471,000. The report also showed an upward revision of 2,000 new claims for the prior week, which was a major disappointment because there are no special factors to explain the increase. The 471,000 mark is the highest in five weeks, and second highest since February. However, in an important offset, the four-week average of 453,500 does show improvement from 461,000 in mid-April.

The euro retreated once again despite a recent spike, to settle at $1.2329, and continues to hover around the four-year low of $1.2146 from a day ago. With the ongoing saga of the euro, analysts are now considering options which include a collapse of the eurozone, or countries breaking away from the euro, which wasn’t in the realm of possibility four months ago. [Know Which ETFs Come With Euro Exposure.]

  • WisdomTree Dreyfus Euro (NYSEArca: EU)

The Japanese economy showed growth of 1.2% in the first quarter of 2010 as the country’s recovery from a crippling recession gains momentum. With small gains over the last quarter of 2009 totaling 1%, this marks the fourth consecutive quarterly gain for Japan. While this is good news at the moment for domestic production and wages, the yen continues to surge against the struggling euro, which could wind up hurting Japanese exports. [Currency ETFs Make Moves as Euro Debt Crisis Widens.]

  • CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (NYSEArca: FXY)

Good news if you’re a traveler; not so much if you’re holding the ETF that tracks gasoline futures: gas prices are projected to be lower for Memorial Day weekend. Prices fell today for the second straight week, thanks to a sell-off on Wall Street and continuing trouble in Europe. United States Gasoline (NYSEArca: UGA) is down nearly 11.5% in the last month.

Read the disclaimer; Tom Lydon is a board member of Rydex|SGI.

Aaron Hurst contributed to this article

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Lydon serves as an independent trustee of certain mutual funds and ETFs that are managed by Guggenheim Investments; however, any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Mr. Lydon and not those of Guggenheim Funds, Guggenheim Investments, Guggenheim Specialized Products, LLC or any of their affiliates. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.