March 6 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 7 a.m. EST

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, March 6:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures rose Thursday and European shares were higher after the European Central Bank held interest rates steady.

Asian shares ended the session with gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.6%.

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST, fourth-quarter productivity and unit labor costs at 8:30 a.m., and factory orders for January at 10 a.m.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Wednesday closed flat as investors digested disappointing U.S. services sector and private-payrolls reports. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report from data compiled before Feb. 24 indicated that the economy generally grew despite a slowdown in hiring due to the severe weather that swept across much of the country. 

The  S&P 500 settled down 0.01% at 1,873.81 while the  Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.22% to 16,360.18. The  Nasdaq rose 0.14% to 4,357.97.

4.-- Private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is working to complete a deal to buy Safeway (SWY) this week, though its efforts to do so have been complicated by supermarket giant Kroger (KR), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Cerberus owns the Albertsons supermarkets chain. It was hoping earlier this week to lock up a deal to acquire Safeway by now, the people told the Journal.

But Kroger, Safeway's larger rival, is now considering a bid of its own for all or part of Safeway, the people told the newspaper. Cerberus is still seen as likelier to emerge with a deal for Safeway, in part because of antitrust risk associated with any proposed tie-up with Kroger, they said, the Journal reported.

Kroger is expected on Thursday to post fourth-quarter earnings of 72 a cents a share.

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