Stocks firmed early Thursday as lackluster retail sales results encouraged Fed-obsessed bulls ahead of tomorrow's June employment report. Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading a point above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 2-point gain. The 10-year Treasury bond was up 1/32 in price to yield 5.22%, while the dollar rose against the euro and fell against the yen. Overseas markets were mostly higher, with London's FTSE 100 recently adding 0.8% to 5872 and Germany's Xetra DAX up 0.8% to 5670. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 1.3% overnight to 15,321, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.1% to 16,441. Most commodity prices were lower. August crude fell 24 cents to $74.95 a barrel ahead of an Energy Department inventory report that is expected to show a 650,000-barrel decline in gasoline stockpiles last week. Elsewhere, gold lost $4.70 to $625 an ounce, and copper shed 1.9 cents to $3.39 a pound. On Wednesday, concerns about North Korea's missile launch and a spike in oil prices sent stocks to sizable losses. For the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7% to 11,152, while the S&P 500 fell 0.7% to 1271 and the Nasdaq Composite plunged 1.7% to 2153. U.S. chain stores report their monthly same-store sales Thursday. Among the notable early returns was Costco ( COST), which said June comps rose 6% from a year ago, missing the 7% Street consensus. Also missing analysts' forecast with June comps were Pier 1 ( PIR), New York & Co. ( NWY), Limited ( LTD) and Chico's ( CHS). P.F. Chang's ( PFCB) said second-quarter same-store sales fell 1% at its flagship Bistro chain. Overall, revenue rose 14% to $226 million in the quarter, missing previous guidance for $229.4 million. Away from retail, Openwave ( OPWV) said fourth-quarter revenue will be $90 million to $92 million, missing forecasts for about $120 million. The company expects to break even before items in the period. To view Farnoosh Torabi's video take on today's premarket action,
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