5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures in the U.S. were pointing lower, a day after equities took big losses weighed down by diminished hopes for additional stimulus from the Federal Reserve and the prospect of more debt problems surfacing in Europe.

European shares were falling and Asian shares finished in the red on Thursday.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The consensus estimate, according to Briefing.com, calls for initial claims to come in at 355,000, down slightly from 359,000 the week before.

The jobless claims report is a precursor to the Labor Department's big March jobs report on Friday.

Retailers will be releasing monthly same-store sales numbers on Thursday. The expectation is for a solid month with analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecasting an overall year-over-year gain of 3.4%.

Costco ( COST ), the warehouse retailer, early Thursday said comparable-store sales in March rose 6%.

Morgan Stanley ( MS) CEO James Gorman has been in talks with Moody's in an attempt to maintain its credit ratings and stave off a downgrade that could diminish the bank's ability to buy the rest of Citigroup ( C) brokerage Smith Barney, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley owns 51% of Smith Barney, and holds an option, which kicks in at the end of May, to increase its stake to 65%, the FT said.

JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) may not end up buying back too much stock this year, if the current strength in the stock persists, according to CEO Jamie Dimon.

In his annual letter to shareholders, Dimon said the bank's appetite for buying back stock at current levels of around $45 is "not as great," as shares now trade well above tangible book value per share.

"If you like our businesses, buying back stock at tangible book value is a very good deal. So you can assume that we are a buyer in size around tangible book value," Dimon wrote. "Unfortunately, we were restricted from buying back more stock when it was cheap -- below tangible book value -- and we did not get permission to buy back stock until it was selling at $45 a share."

Delta Airlines ( DAL) is considering a bid for ConocoPhillips' ( COP) idled 185,000 barrel per day refinery in Trainer, Penn., Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the negotiations.

The board of Delta has met twice to discuss a potential bid, Reuters said. The second largest U.S. air carrier is mulling the bid in an effort to hedge fuel costs.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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