NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were gaining ground Thursday as U.S. retail sales and job data defied the extended harsh weather in many parts of the country and came in stronger than expected.
- Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were gaining 35 points, or 35.92 points above fair value, to 16,374. S&P 500 futures were higher by 4.75 points, or 4.6 points above fair value, to 1,872.5. Nasdaq futures were ahead by 13.5 points, or 13.34 points above fair value, to 3,720.3.
- U.S. February retail sales increased 0.3% vs. expectations of a 0.2% rise.
- Initial jobless claims in the week ended March 8 fell 9,000 to 315,000 vs. expectations of a rise to 330,000. The four-week moving average also fell, down 6,250 to 330,500.
- January business inventories will be released at 10 a.m. EDT
- Federal Reserve Board of Governor nominees Stanley Fischer, Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard are due for a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.
- International markets were mixed but mostly stabilizing as markets started to put aside China slowdown concerns for now in anticipation of other incoming economic data. The DAX in Germany was up 0.27%, the FTSE in London was down 0.13%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.67%, the Nikkei 225 in Japan was down 0.1% and the Shanghai Composite finished up 1.07%.
- In Ukraine, lawmakers have voted unanimously to create a National Guard of 60,000 or more volunteers amid their worries that Russian troops have amassed themselves near the border between the two countries, and ahead of a Sunday referendum in Crimea on whether citizens want to join Russia. Pro-Russian forces are currently in control of Crimea.
- Plug Power (PLUG) was surging more than 11% in premarket trading Thursday after the maker of fuel cells reported a narrowing of adjusted fourth-quarter loss to an in-line 8 cents a share on stronger-than-expected revenue of $8 million. Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $7.45 million. Sales orders for 2014 have already exceeded $60 million, the company said.
- General Electric (GE - Get Report) was gaining nearly 1% after announcing that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the IPO of its North American Retail Finance business.
- JetBlue Airways (JBLU - Get Report) was popping 2.74% after revealing that it has agreed to sell its wholly- owned subsidiary LiveTV to Thales Group for $400 million.
- Teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) is forecast by Wall Street to post a fourth-quarter loss of 31 cents a share on sales of $683.8 million.
- Major U.S. stock markets closed mixed on Wednesday as Chinese growth concerns lingered and the U.S. threatened Russia with sanctions over the situation in Ukraine.
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