2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Friday includes wholesale inventories for June at 10 a.m. EDT.
3. -- U.S. stocks on Thursday posted their first gains of the week as investors cheered China's stronger-than-expected trade numbers for both exports and imports. The S&P 500 rose 0.39% to close at 1,697.48 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.18%, to 15,498.32. The Nasdaq climbed 0.41% to close at 3,669.12.
4. -- BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) is warming up to the idea of taking the smartphone maker private, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins and the company's board are coming around to the idea that taking BlackBerry private would allow them to fix problems out of public view, the sources told Reuters. "There is a change of tone on the board," one of the sources said. No deal is imminent, however, and BlackBerry hasn't launched any kind of a sale process, the sources said.
5. -- J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) shares surged Thursday after activist investor Bill Ackman urged the troubled retailer to replace CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman. A report on CNBC early Thursday said the company, with prodding from Ackman, had initiated a search to replace Ullman, who reclaimed the CEO's position in April, following the departure of former Apple executive Ron Johnson. Ackman, of Pershing Square Capital Management, owns just under 18% of the company. In a letter to the board, Ackman, who is also a director on the board of J.C. Penney, wrote: "We need a CEO with extensive, ideally department-store retail experience, strong operational skills and a strong public company track record. ... We can't afford to wait." However, in a statement issued late Thursday, J.C. Penney Chairman Thomas Engibous expressed the company's displeasure with Ackman's actions. "The board of directors strongly disagrees with Mr. Ackman and is extremely disappointed that his letter was released to the media at the same time that it was sent to the board," Engibous said in the statement. "Mr. Ackman has been integrally involved in the board's activities since he joined two years ago," Engibous said. "This includes leading a campaign to appoint the company's previous CEO, under whose leadership performance [the company] deteriorated precipitously. His latest actions are disruptive and counterproductive at an important stage in the company's recovery."
6. -- America Movil, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, launched a €7.2 billion ($9.6 billion) bid for the shares in Dutch telecom company Royal KPN it doesn't already own, challenging a rival offer for KPN's German mobile group E-Plus. Spain's Telefonica last month offered $11 billion for E-Plus. The Telefonica deal was backed by KPN's management, but most analysts believe Slim wanted E-Plus for himself, The Associated Press reported.
7. -- Priceline.com (PCLN - Get Report), the online travel company, posted second-quarter earnings on Thursday that beat Wall Street's expectations. Priceline reported second-quarter earnings of $9.70 a share on revenue of $1.68 billion, an increase of 37.8% from a year earlier, as travel bookings rose 38%. Analysts were looking for Priceline to post earnings of $9.36 a share on revenue of $1.66 billion.