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Stock Futures Flat After Jobless Claims Data

Stocks in this article: ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC CRUS DE CRM ZLC NWSA CBS SCHL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were trading near the flat line Wednesday after domestic weekly initial jobless claims came in as expected and as discussions on Greece hit an impasse

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 3 points, or 6.96 points below fair value, at 12,756. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 1.29 points, or 3.36 points above fair value, at 1387. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2 points, or 1.12 points above fair value, at 2595.

The major U.S. equity averages closed mixed Tuesday, paring losses that followed in the wake of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke weighing in on the fiscal cliff.

Eurozone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed at their meeting this week to reach a consensus on how Greece could achieve debt sustainability and a lowering of the financing gap of €14 billion through 2014; they were aiming for an agreement to be reached before unlocking additional financial aid for Greece.

Talks are scheduled to reconvene on Monday.

"Judging by the reaction of futures this morning, investors share our sense of 'ho hum' about the Greece news," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. "It's important to remember that the ultimate goal of these negotiations is to reduce the debt burden to somewhere around 120% of GDP. That is a terribly high number and the math used to get Greece to that debt level is ambitious despite the considerable progress that Greece has made over the last several years."

"Ultimately, we like many others see no way Greece can return to debt sustainability without further write downs of outstanding debt, including obligations in the hands of the public sector," he added.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 17 fell 41,000 to an as-expected 410,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 451,000.

The four-week moving average was 396,250, an increase of 9,500 from the previous week's average of 386,750.

Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 10 fell 30,000 to 3.337 million from the prior week's upwardly revised level of 3.367 million. Economists, on average, were expecting continuing claims to come in at 3.345 million.

"Jobless claims remained above the 400k mark despite the sharp 41k drop in the pace of initial jobless filings to 410k," said Millan Mulraine, an economist at TD Securities. "The decline comes on the heels of the upwardly revised pop to 451k the week before. The elevated level of claims is due in part to the continuing impact of Hurricane Sandy, which will likely continue to distort the data for another few weeks."

At 9:55 a.m., the final read on University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for November is forecast to come in at 84.5, down from the 84.9 preliminary reading.

At 10 a.m., the Conference Board's leading economic indicators index is expected to have risen 0.2% in October after increasing by 0.6% in September.

The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.06%, while the DAX in Germany was up 0.06%.

Japan's Nikkei average settled up 0.87% on Wednesday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed higher by 1.39%.

Gold for December delivery was up $2.70 at $1,726.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts were up 81 cents at $87.56.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 1/32, lowering the yield to 1.667%. The dollar was up 0.06%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Deere (DE) shares were sliding nearly 3.5% after the agricultural equipment maker posted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings below analysts' estimates amid higher production costs and increased selling, administrative and general, and research and development expenses.

The company reported earnings of $1.75 a share on revenue of $9.79 billion; analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of $1.88 a share on revenue of $8.85 billion.

Salesforce.com (CRM), the cloud computing company, on Tuesday delivered a 35% year-over-year revenue increase in its latest quarter.

The company reported non-GAAP earnings of $49.6 million, or 33 cents a share, for the third quarter on revenue of $788 million. Analysts expected profit of 32 cents a share on revenue of $776.5 million.

Salesforce.com forecast non-GAAP earnings of 38 cents to 40 cents a share in its fiscal fourth quarter on revenue ranging from $825 million to $830 million. Wall Street's current consensus view is for a profit of 40 cents a share on revenue of $829.9 million.

News Corp (NWSA)has expressed interest to CBS (CBS)about acquiring its Simon & Schuster book business, according to people familiar with the talks, The Wall Street Journal reported.

News Corp owns HarperCollins Publishers and the Journal.

The people described the discussions as preliminary and cautioned that a deal isn't imminent, the newspaper said.

News Corp shares were up 0.54%.

Zale (ZLC), the jewelry retailer, reported a wider-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss on Tuesday.

Zale said it expects to be profitable for fiscal 2013.

Shares were falling 14%.

Scholastic (SCHL), the publishing company, lowered its fiscal-year outlook after Tuesday's closing bell.

Scholastic shares were plunging 23%.

Cirrus Logic (CRUS) shares were popping more than 6% after the board of the high-precision analog and digital signal processing components supplier approved $200 million in share buybacks.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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