Thursday's Early Headlines
- Same-Store Sales Upbeat in February -- Out of 19 retailers to report February comparable store sales data so far, 14 topped estimates, according to Thomson Reuters. Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and Wet Seal (WTSLA) surprised with positive comps. Costco Wholesale (COST), Limited (LTD) and BJ's Wholesale (BJ) were among the best reported comp sales. Hot Topic (HOTT) and was among the worst with a 7% decline, although that was still better than the Thomson Reuters estimate for a 13.1% drop.
- Jobless Claims Fall Below Consensus -- The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 469,000 last week from a revised 498,000 the prior week, below the average economist target of 470,000. Continuing claims fell to 4.5 million from 4.63 million.
- BOE, ECB Hold Rates Steady; Exit Steps to Be Detailed -- The European Central Bank kept interest rates at a record low of 1% and the Bank of England left U.K. interest rates at a record low of 0.5%. At a press conference later, the ECB is expected to talk further of unwinding stimulus measures. Reuters reports that the ECB could switch back to auctions for its 3-month operations, which would make it easier to reduce excess liquidity.
- Citigroup's Pandit to Say 'Thanks' -- Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit Thursday will appear before a congressional panel overseeing the bailout of U.S. banks, where he will thank the U.S. government for providing $45 billion of bailout money that stabilized the bank during the financial crisis, Bloomberg reports, citing a person close to Citigroup. Pandit also is expected to tell the oversight panel that Citigroup made $160 billion in mortgage and credit-card loans last year and helped more than 800,000 families avoid foreclosure, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- RadioShack Rises on Takeover Chatter -- RadioShack (RSH) shares rose Wednesday on rumors of a possible takeover of the electronics chain. Some reports say RadioShack could be acquired by an investment firm in a leveraged buyout. William Lefkowitz, options strategist at brokerage firm vFinance Investments, told Reuters that Apollo Management was cited as one possible suitor.