March 13 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 7 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, March 13:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were rising Thursday but global stocks were mostly flat following lackluster factory production and other data from China.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite rose 1.1%. 

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, retail sales for February at 8:30 a.m., export and import prices for February at 8:30 a.m., and business inventories for January at 10 a.m. 

3.-- U.S. stocks on Wednesday closed mixed as Chinese growth concerns lingered and the U.S. threatened Russia with sanctions over the situation in Ukraine.

The  S&P 500 rose 0.03% to close at 1,868.19, while the  Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.07% at 16,340.01. The  Nasdaq gained 0.37% to 4,323.33.

4.-- The Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation of multi-level supplements seller Herbalife (HLF). The move comes more than a year after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management took a $1 billion short position in Herbalife's shares and accused the company of being a pyramid scheme.

Herbalife disclosed the probe on Wednesday afternoon and said it "welcomes the inquiry" and will cooperate fully with the FTC. 

"Herbalife welcomes the inquiry given the tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace, and will cooperate fully with the FTC. We are confident that Herbalife is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations," the company said.

Herbalife shares fell 7.4% on Wednesday to $60.57 but were rising by 0.7% in premarket trading on Thursday.

5. -- GM (GM) said Wednesday that problems with ignition switches surfaced as early as 2001.

Last month, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007). All of the recalled cars have the same ignition switches.

The automaker said it now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. 

The stock rose 0.4% in premarket trading.

6. -- Teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) is forecast by Wall Street on Thursday to post a fourth-quarter loss of 31 cents a share on sales of $683.8 million.

7. -- A federal court on Wednesday invalidated the key patent for Celebrex, one of Pfizer's (PFE) most lucrative medicines, potentially opening the door for cheaper generic versions 18 months sooner than expected and cutting into the drugmaker's profit.

Pfizer could lose a couple billion dollars if the court decision on the Celebrex patent stands, according to The Associated Press. The world's second-biggest drugmaker said it disagrees with the ruling and will "pursue all available remedies," including immediately appealing Wednesday's ruling. 

Pfizer shares fell 0.2% to $31.91 in premarket trading.

8. -- Plug Power (PLUG), the maker of fuel cells, posted an adjusted fourth-quarter loss of 8 cents a share, in line with estimates. 

The stock has been on a wild ride this week following a bearish report from Citron Research that said Plug Power would be fairly valued at 50 cents.

The stock closed Wednesday at $6.80, up 12.8%. The stock fell 42% in Tuesday's session but was up 11.6% in premarket trading Thursday following the earnings report.

9. -- Royal Dutch Shell  (RDS.A) will cut spending in its American exploration and production business by a fifth and could sell more of its shale assets, Reuters reported.

Shell, which is already selling more than 700,000 acres of U.S. shale assets, said in a strategy update on Thursday that it would reduce spending in its American upstream business by 20% from last year.

10.-- A man and woman were killed early Thursday after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street, police said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said 23 others were injured, five critically, in the crash that happened around 12:30 a.m. as the driver tried to evade a pursuing police officer. 

-- Written by 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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