An exchange traded fund indexed to the S&P 500 was fractionally higher before the bell Thursday as investors focused on weekly jobless claims, a lower outlook from Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) and any hints on a rate hike from the European Central Bank.

Texas Instruments late Wednesday cut its second-quarter guidance. “Texas Instruments’ lowered outlook appears to be entirely due to weakness at its Nokia (NYSE: NOK) business,” BMO Capital Markets said.

Texas Instruments is a key holding in semiconductor ETFs such as Semiconductor HOLDRS (AMEX: SMH) and iShares PHLX SOX Semiconductor (NasdaqGM: SOXX).

Separately, the Labor Department on Thursday said weekly jobless claims rose slightly to 427,000.

In Europe, the ECB held interest rates steady but President Jean-Claude Trichet in a press conference said strong vigilance is needed on inflation.

Stock ETFs are on a six-day losing stretch.


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