March 7 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:56 a.m. EST

Here are 10 things you should know for Friday, March 7:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were flat and European and Asian shares were muted on Friday ahead of U.S. jobs data.

European stocks were lower. Asian shares ended the session mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.9%

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes the nonfarm payrolls report for February at 8:30 a.m. EST, the trade balance for January at 8:30 a.m. and consumer credit for January at 3 p.m.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Thursday finished mixed but the S&P 500 settled at another record high amid fewer jobless claims.

The S&P 500 rose 0.17% to close at 1,877.03 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.38% to 16,421.89. The Nasdaq fell slightly to 4,352.13.

4.-- Russia's parliament on Friday supported Crimean lawmakers who want to see their region split from Ukraine and join Russia, CNN reported. Russia said no sanctions imposed by the United States or Europe will change its mind.

President Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a one-hour phone call on Thursday to pursue a diplomatic solution to the military incursion into Crimea, including direct talks between Russia and Ukraine with outside observers, USA Today reported.

5.-- Safeway  (SWY) said Thursday it has agreed to be acquired by privately held supermarket chain Albertsons for $40 a share, in a major consolidation of the supermarket industry. The deal also means private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is pushing headlong into the supermarket industry after buying Albertsons from Supervalu in early 2013.

Cerberus-backed Albertsons will offer Safeway shareholders $32.50 a share in cash, in addition to a contingent consideration worth an estimated $3.65 a share and a distribution of stock in Blackhawk Network Holdings (HAWK) worth $3.95 a share. The latter distribution was announced in February as part of Safeway's 2014 outlook.

The deal stipulates that Safeway will conduct a 45-day "go shop" to seek a higher bid than Albertson's offer of $40 a share. Supermarket giant Kroger (KR) has been reported as a possible buyer of Safeway but a deal may raise antitrust concerns. 

Safeway shares fell 2.5% in premarket trading to $38.50.

6. -- Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto said Thursday that he isn't the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be.

The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin. 

In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Associated Press, Nakamoto, 64, denied he had anything to do with it and said he had never heard of bitcoin until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago.

Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek's report are correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor, and that his given name at birth was Satoshi. But he strongly disputed the magazine's assertion that he is "the face behind bitcoin."

"I got nothing to do with it," he told the AP.

7. -- Boeing (BA) said Thursday it is freezing the traditional defined-benefit pensions for 68,000 nonunion employees -- including managers and executives -- starting in 2016.

The Chicago-based aerospace company said in a statement that the employees will transition to a company-funded defined contribution retirement plan, effective Jan. 1, 2016. They will have a 401(k)-style retirement plan similar to what union machinists approved in a contentious contract-extension vote earlier this year.

Boeing shares rose. 0.1% in premarket trading.

8. -- Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally was awarded performance bonuses for 2013 worth $13.8 million, the automaker said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

The amount Mulally makes from the restricted stock he received depends on its value on the day he sells it, Reuters reported. The shares were worth $13.83 million based on Ford's closing price of $15.67 on Thursday.

9. -- Foot Locker (FL) reported fourth-quarter profit of $121 million, or 81 cents a share, up from $104 million, or 68 cents a share, a year earlier. Earnings on an adjusted basis were 82 cents a share; analysts expected 76 cents.

The stock rose 5.9% in premarket trading to $45.25.

-- Gap (GPS) said same-store sales in February fell 7%, hurt by winter storms that shut stores.

Analysts had expected a gain of 0.9% in sales at stores open at least a year.

Gap shares 

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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Copyright 2014 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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