Stock futures were lower on Thursday morning in downbeat trading ahead of a big day of Fedspeak.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.28%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 0.41%, and Nasdaq futures slid 0.31%.
Investors were cautious as they awaited further clues as to when the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates. The odds are greater on a December rate hike after a stellar October jobs report supported the case for tighter monetary policy. Many will be looking to a number of speeches Thursday for clarity on when the Fed could make its move. Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Vice Chair Stanley Fischer and a number of regional Fed presidents will give remarks at a conference in Washington on Thursday.
Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. remained flat at 276,000 in the week ended Nov. 7, according to the Labor Department. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits was expected to fall to 270,000. However, the measure remained near 15-year lows in another sign of a tightening labor market.
Stocks fell on Wednesday as a troubled retail sector gave the market little reason to move higher. Macy's (M) suffered its worst daily performance in eight years after reporting its third straight quarter of declining sales. J.C. Penney (JCP) also moved lower ahead of its own earnings report on Friday.
Fellow retailer Kohl's (KSS) did manage to report a strong quarter, driven by better-than-expected back-to-school sales and a rebound in traffic in October. The company earned 75 cents a share, 6 cents above estimates, while revenue climbed 1% to $4.43 billion and beat forecasts. Shares climbed 9% before the bell on Thursday.
Angie's List (ANGI) spiked 11% in premarket trading after receiving an acquisition offer from InterActiveCorp (IACI) worth $512 million, a 10% premium to the company's Wednesday close. InterActive said it would consider combining the home services search engine with its HomeAdvisor business.
Viacom (VIAB) shares fell 5.3% after the media company reported a disappointing quarter tied to a 20% drop at the box office. The owner of Comedy Central earned $1.54 a share, a penny short of estimates, while revenue of $3.79 billion fell just shy of forecasts.
Activist hedge fund Elliott Management increased ownership in Dialog Semiconductor (DLGNF) to 3.6% as it works to convince the company to drop its bid for industry peer Atmel (ATML) . The fund said it had received positive feedback for its argument against the acquisition.
PayPal (PYPL) fell more than 1% on reports Apple (AAPL) is exploring a rival mobile payments service tied back to its Apple Pay platform. The tech giant is reportedly in talks with JPMorgan and Wells Fargo to set up the service, according to The Wall Street Journal. A 2016 launch date is expected.