May 15 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:47 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, May 15:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were flat Thursday ahead of a deluge of data and earnings reports from major retailers.

European stocks were little changed after data revealed that the eurozone economy expanded 0.2% quarterly and 0.9% for the year, which was below expectations.

Asian shares ended the session mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.8%.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Consumer Price Index for April at 8:30 a.m., the Empire State Manufacturing Index for May at 8:30 a.m., industrial production and capacity utilization for April at 9:15 a.m., The Philadelphia Fed Index for May at 10 a.m., and the NAHB Housing Market Index for May at 10 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday fell after posting two days of record highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.61% to 16,613.97, while the S&P 500 fell 0.47% to 1,888.53. The Nasdaq fell 0.72% to 4,100.63. 

4. -- Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, maintained in an interview with Jim Cramer that he didn't gift the banks a $185 billion credit line to make money for taxpayers.

"In March of '09, the conventional wisdom in much of elite opinion was that we were going to lose $1 to $2 trillion on the direct cost of the financial rescue, not the cost of the loss of unemployment or wealth, but the direct cost of the financial rescue. But because we did a very forceful creative effort, the taxpayers are going to get a positive return ... and we didn't do it to make money for the taxpayer, we made money to prevent them from having mass unemployment."

Geithner's memoir, "Stress Test," will be published next week. 

5. -- The world's biggest retailerWalmart (WMT), reported first-quarter earnings of $1.11 a share, down from $1.14 a year earlier.

Income from continuing operations was $1.10 a share. The company said bad weather hurt earnings by about 3 cents a share.

Analysts on Wall Street were looking for earnings of $1.15 a share.

Revenue rose 1% to $114.96 billion but came in below forecasts.

Walmart issued a second-quarter earnings forecast below analysts' estimates.

The stock fell 3.2% in premarket trading to $76.22.

6. -- Cisco (CSCO) reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that topped analysts' forecasts and the networker said it's eyeing a return to growth.

Cisco reported revenue of $11.5 billion, down from $12.2 billion a year earlier but above analysts' forecasts of $11.36 billion. Excluding items, Cisco earned 51 cents a share, the same as the prior year's quarter. Analysts were looking for earnings of 48 cents a share.

"I'm pleased with our performance in Q3," said Cisco CEO John Chambers, in a statement. "Our financial results exceeded the guidance we provided last quarter as we demonstrated clear progress on returning to growth."

Cisco shares rose 6.8% in premarket trading to $24.35.

7. -- J.C. Penney (JCP) is forecast to report a first-quarter loss of $1.25 a share on sales of $2.71 billion.

The April-ended quarter will be a big test to determine whether the struggling retailer is ready to set its sights past a turnaround and onto how to will achieve and maintain a profitable future.

8. -- Alstom was trading lower Thursday after the French government issued a decree that gives it new powers to intervene in takeovers. That could derail General Electric's (GE) $15.6 billion bid for Alstom's power unit, an offer the government has said it opposes.

9. -- British cellphone seller Carphone Warehouse and consumer electronics retailer Dixons Retail Group announced plans to merge Thursday in a deal that values the combined business at 3.8 billion pounds ($6.4 billion).

10. -- Labor organizers said protesters will turn out in the U.S. and more than 30 other countries on Thursday in support of higher pay for workers at fast-food chains including McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (BKW) and Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell.

The demonstrations build on a campaign by unions to bring attention to the plight of low-wage workers and get the public behind the idea of a $15-an-hour wage. Businesses have said such a wage would hurt their ability to create jobs.

The campaign comes as President Barack Obama works to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which translates to about $15,000 a year for a full-time job.

-- 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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