NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures rose modestly Thursday morning, attempting a recovery after two days of losses which wiped out Wall Street's year-to-date gains. Retail sales posted their third straight monthly decline, while jobless claims saw a larger-than-expected drop.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.22%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 0.26%, and Nasdaq futures added 0.25%.
Retail sales slumped 0.6% in February after a 0.8% drop a month earlier and a 0.9% decrease in December. Economists had expected a 0.3% increase as savings in gas prices translated to higher consumer spending. Core retail sales, excluding auto and gas, dropped 0.8%.
Jobless claims fell 36,000 to 289,000 in the week ended March 7, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected new claims for unexmployment benefits to fall to 310,000 from 325,000 a week earlier.
Markets have been pressured for much of the week as investors process the likelihood the Federal Reserve will raise rates sooner than later. Wall Street is preparing for the Fed to remove its "patient" language from its release in a two-day meeting next Tuesday, a signal that could mean a midsummer rate hike.
Major U.S. banks were mixed before the open after the Fed vetoed several ambitious dividend and buyback plans in round two of its stress tests. Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), and JPMorgan (JPM) had their buyback targets lowered, while Bank of America (BAC) was told to resubmit its capital plan.
European markets were mixed after eurozone industrial production slipped 0.1% in January, lower than a forecast 0.2% increase. After a rally Wednesday, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 took a turn lower, though the FTSE 100 in London spiked as mining companies including Rio Tinto (RIO) rebounded.
Ukraine received a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund with officials giving the war-ravaged nation access to $5 billion of $17.5 billion in emergency funding. However, the central body cut Ukraine's economic forecast, expecting it to contract 5.5% this year from previous forecasts of 1% growth.
Alibaba (BABA) reportedly has invested $200 million in Snapchat, the photo-messaging app, according to Reuters. Alibaba shares were up 0.62% in premarket.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD) tanked 22% after announcing it will postpone its Nuplazid drug application until the second half of the year. The company had previously expected to file for the Parkinson's disease drug in the first quarter.
Shake Shack (SHAK) plummeted nearly 6% after delivering its first post-IPO earnings report. Though its quarterly net loss was narrower than expected, the chain's growth expectations disappointed investors' high hopes.
United Technologies (UTX) spiked 2% before the bell. The aerospace company is considering splitting off its Sikorsky Aircraft helicopter unit, the Wall Street Journal reports. The unit had 2014 revenue of $6.6 billion.
Valeant Pharamceuticals (VRX) was moving higher after the company reportedly will continue with its planned acquisition of Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP), despite a higher offer from Endo International (ENDP) on Wednesday. Valeant's offer of $10.1 billion was less than Endo's $11.2 billion bid.
Lumber Liquidators (LL) jumped 3.7% ahead of a conference call scheduled for midmorning Thursday. The company will discuss its first-quarter outlook and also address product safety after a damning 60 Minutes report earlier this month.