Stock index futures pointed to a flat to lower open on Thursday after consumer bellwether Wal-Mart reported flat quarterly profits and as investors awaited producer price and jobless data for insight into the state of the economy.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Producer prices, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, are expected to have risen 0.1 percent in April after coming in flat for March, underpinned by rising gasoline prices.
We would like to see a modicum of inflation, said Arthur Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York. By that, we mean we'd like to see positive numbers on both the headline and core number, so anything in positive territory is going to be a winner.
S&P 500 futures fell 3.3 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures shed 43 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures off 1.75 points.
Weekly initial jobless claims, also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, are expected to have risen by 9,000 to 610,000, underscoring the still-fragile state of the U.S. economic recovery, a day after worse-than-expected retail sales contributed to a sell-off in stocks.
In Wednesday's sell-off, the S&P 500 breached key technical support, ending below 900 for the first time in over a week as stocks retraced strong advances since closing at a 12-year low in early March.
Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc
General Motors and Chrysler aim to drop as many as 3,000 U.S. dealers and are expected to begin sending notifications as early as Thursday, three people briefed on the still developing plans told Reuters.
U.S. stocks tumbled Wednesday as the gloomy retail sales report revived anxiety about the economy and led to a broad sell-off that accelerated late in the session.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)