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Market Hustle: Stock Futures Trim Gains After GDP, Jobless Claims Data

Stocks in this article: ^IXIC ^DJI ^GSPC AMZN YUM LULU C

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were trimming gains Thursday following mixed economic reports that showed a drop in initial jobless claims and lower-than-expected fourth-quarter GDP.

  • Futures for the S&P 500 were trading 0.11 points below fair value to 1,844.5 while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 14.01 points over fair value to 16,201. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 1.16 points over fair value to 3,574.5.
  • U.S. initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 311,000 in the week ended March 22 vs. expectations of 325,000. The four-week moving average also dropped, down 9,500. The fourth-quarter GDP estimate came in at 2.6% compared with expectations of 2.7%.
  • The International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide between $14 billion to $18 billion to Ukraine in an economic reform program. Contributions from other donors could see aid reach $27 billion over the coming two years. But Ukraine must meet requirements before approval of the package, such as reforming its energy sector and putting more controls around its exchange rate. President Obama has warned of further sanctions for Russia even if it does not make further moves into Ukraine.
  • Stocks expected to see price action Thursday include Citigroup (C) after its capital plan was rejected by the Federal Reserve due to insufficient progress in risk-management. Other banks which had plans rejected included the U.S. arms of HSBC (HSBC), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Santander (SAN) and Zions Bancorp (ZION).
  • Lululemon (LULU) shares were sliding 2.03% in premarket trading after projecting lower-than-estimated first-quarter earnings and revenue, and a fourth-quarter same-store sales slip of 2%. The company beat on the top and bottom lines for the fourth quarter, with earnings topping expectations by 3 cents at 75 cents a share.
  • In other corporate news, Yum! Brands (YUM) announced that KFC China has launched a new menu at its nearly 4,600 restaurants in more than 900 cities in this key market as it emerges from widespread concerns about the safety of its food. "The announcement marks the next phase of the company's aggressive and comprehensive restage of the KFC brand in China," Yum! said in a statement. Amazon (AMZN) is slashing prices on the majority of its cloud offerings beginning April 1, with reductions of up to 65% in response to steep cuts detailed by competitor Google (GOOG) the day before.
  • International markets were mixed amid speculation over sanctions for Russia. Germany's DAX was rising 0.06% while the FTSE in London was off 0.46% despite national retail sales growing at a stronger-than-expected 1.7% on the month in February and 3.7% over the year. In Asia, the Hang Seng closed down 0.24% while the Nikkei gained 1.01%.
  • Markets closed lower Wednesday as investors shirked pushing stocks to new highs in the absence of strong catalysts.

-- Written by Jane Searle and Andrea Tse in New York

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