Stock Futures Slip as Jobless Claims Rise; Wal-Mart Gains

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open on Thursday after initial jobless claims came in higher than expected and after Wednesday's dip resulting from the Federal Reserve's January meeting minutes carried over into the next trading day.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were dropping 16 points, or 0.12%, at 13,873. Futures for the S&P 500 were shedding 2 points, or 0.15%, to 1505. Nasdaq futures were falling 8 points, or 0.3% with a fair value of 2729.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday that the consumer price index for January remained unchanged from the prior month's flat reading. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting inflation to rise 0.1%.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Feb. 16 rose 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, up from a prior-week revised 342,000 claims. Ecomists expected claims to rise 355,000. The four-week moving average rose to 360,750 from the previous average of 352,750.

The National Association of Realtors is expected to announce existing home sales at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, with consensus predicting an annual rate of 4.9 million in January. December's annual rate hit 4.94 million.

The Philadelphia Fed was also expected on Thursday to release its business outlook survey for January. The survey shows general business conditions and was looking for a reading of about 1.1. January's reading came in a negative 5.8, which suggests a contraction.

Minutes from the Fed's policy-making wing on Wednesday suggested that central bankers were becoming more open to the idea of backing away from the massive $85 billion a month in open-ended Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities purchases that the Fed has been making.

Stocks dropped on Wednesday as the prospect of less monetary easing raised questions as to what a Fed exit of continued monetary stimulus may mean for equity markets.

The Fed's less-than-thrilling announcement was battering global stock markets. The FTSE 100 in London was sliding 1.59% on Wednesday, and the DAX in Frankfurt was dropping 1.69%.

Asian markets closed with deep losses on Thursday as Japan's Nikkei average fell 1.39% overnight to finish at 11309. Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.72% to 22,907.

Gold futures for April delivery were dropping $4.80 to $1,573.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while futures for April crude oil contracts were looking lower by $1.50 cents to $93.72 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was increasing 10/32, diluting the yield to 1.978%. The dollar was up 0.31%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores ( DELL) announced quarterly earnings from continuing operations of $1.67 a share on revenue of $127.1 billion. Analysts expected profit of $1.57 a share on revenue of $128.85 billion. Shares of the world's largest retailer were tacking on 1.3% in premarket trading.

Tesla Motors ( TSLA) reported a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of 65 cents a share on $306 million in revenue. Consensus among analysts expected a fourth-quarter loss of 53 cents a share on $298.9 million in revenue. Shares of the electric-car maker were tumbling 5.8% in the early session on Thursday.

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) is predicted by analysts to post earnings of 71 cents a share on revenue of $27.79 billion during its fiscal first quarter. Shares were down incrementally in premarket trades.

Boeing ( BA) was expected to detail on Friday its plan to return the grounded Dreamliner jet to service, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Shares were little changed early Thursday.

Chesapeake Energy ( CHK) was anticipated to post fourth-quarter earnings of 14 cents a share for its fourth quarter. The second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas earned 58 cents a share a year ago. Shares were increasing 1.3% in premarket action.

The New York Times ( DISH) said Wednesday that it was putting the Boston Globe up for sale a second time.

Safeway ( SWY) was slated to report fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday. Analysts were looking for the grocery store chain to post a profit of 76 cents a share on revenue of $13.7 billion. Shares dropped 1.6% on Wednesday.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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