Stock Futures Pare Gains on U.S. Data
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were paring gains after worse-than-expected figures on U.S. jobless claims and retail sales.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 20 points, or 18 points above fair value, at 12,408. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2 points, or 2 points above fair value, at 1290. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 6 points, or 4 points above fair value, at 2373.
Two reports on the U.S. economy stole some of the spotlight away from Europe toward the opening bell. Initial jobless claims for the week ending Jan. 7 rose by 24,000 to 399,000, according to the Labor Department. The weekly read came in slightly higher than economists' expectations for 375,000, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters. The prior week's figure was upwardly revised to 375,000 from 372,000.
In a disappointing report from the Commerce Department, U.S. retail sales for December slumped to their weakest read since May 2011. Sales rose 0.1% in December, compared to a revised 0.4% rise in November. Economists had expected sales to rise 0.3% with the help of discounts during the holiday season. Retail sales excluding car sales dropped for the first time since May 2010, declining 0.2% in Decmeber after rising 0.3% in the prior month.At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department is expected to report that business inventories rose 0.4% for November, adding to a 0.8% gain in October. Dow futures were up by as much as 70 points earlier before the focus turned to figures out of the U.S. As positive outcomes from government debt sales in Europe gave hope to investors that the region could deal with its high borrowing costs. On Thursday, Spain sold 9.89 billion euros of bonds maturing within the next four years after setting a goal of selling 5 billion euros. Meanwhile, Italy sold off 8.5 billion euros of one-year bills at a yield of 2.735%, down from 5.952% in a similar auction held last December. The European Central Bank announced that it would keep the benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1%, as economists had expected. The move suggested that policy makers are taking a breather from introducing further stimulus measures despite the looming debt crisis in the eurozone. Jitters around the central bank's intentions have been high as some investors have wanted monetary officials to play a bigger role in helping to shore up the region's troubled economies. European stocks also were paring gains. Germany's DAX was up 1% while London's FTSE was up 0.06%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled 0.74% lower, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3%.
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