NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Target ( TGT) and other retail stocks will be in the spotlight Thursday as the group will be releasing same-store sales results for February.

The Thomson Reuters same-store sales index is expected to post a 2.9% increase for February, compared with a 4.7% decline in February 2009.

Discount and apparel retailers, such as Limited ( LTD), TJX ( TJX) and Costco Wholesale ( COST), are expected to perform best.

On the other hand, teen/child apparel stores like Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) and Hot Topic ( HOTT) and department stores including J.C. Penney ( JCP) are expected to once again see weak comparable store numbers.

Jharonne Martis, director of consumer research at Thomson Reuters, said customers were lured to stores in February thanks to Presidents' Day and Valentine's Day, and that retailers saw increased traffic toward the end of the month despite cold weather, snow, and rain.

"Despite indications of a recovery in consumer spending, retailers are still challenged by consumer confidence, which is being hindered by high unemployment - the No. 1 threat to consumer spending," Martis wrote in a sales preview Wednesday. "Historically, when unemployment is high, consumer confidence remains low. Yet, retailers could see a spike in the second half of March (vs. April of last year), as consumers go shopping for the 2010 Easter holiday."

Investors will also be watching for a handful of earnings reports, with Del Monte ( DLM), Wendy's ( WEN) and Urban Outfitters ( URBN) set to post results early Thursday.

On the economic front, Thursday will bring the Labor Departments weekly read on initial jobless claims, which is expected to show a decline to 470,000 claims from 495,000 the week before. In addition, a revised report on fourth-quarter productivity will be released at 8:30 a.m. EST, followed by January factory orders data at 10 a.m. EST.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.

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