US Stock Futures Suggest Positive Start; Earnings From Big-Box Grocers, Same-Store Sales And Economic Data Should Drive Markets

Wall Street
A woman walks down Wall Street in New York's financial district on March 4, 2014. Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Stock futures suggest Thursday should begin on a positive note as markets recover from a mixed week roiled by the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine, and investors return their focus to earnings announcements from big-box grocers such as Costco and Kroger, and data on same-store sales during frigid February.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.2 percent while futures on the S&P 500 were also up 0.2 percent and those on the Nasdaq were up 0.12 percent. On Wednesday, the Dow dipped 0.22 percent while the S&P 500 slipped 0.01 percent and the Nasdaq inched up 0.14 percent.

“It was one avalanche of bad news after another for retailers of every stripe. Even the big retailers like Macy’s still have way too much winter merchandise," Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International, told MarketWatch, adding: "That winter merchandise is on steep markdown as (retailers) try and make room for spring so it’s a logistic nightmare for retailers right now.”

On the earnings front, Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) and Staples Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) are among those scheduled to announce quarterly earnings before markets open. H&R Block Inc. (NYSE:HRB) is scheduled to announce earnings after market hours.

On the data front, numbers on initial jobless claims for the week ended March 1 and data on non-farm business productivity in the last quarter of 2013 will be released at 8:30 a.m. EST. Data on factory orders in January is scheduled for 10 a.m.

In Europe, markets were positive ahead of monetary policy announcements from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was trading up 0.3 percent and the FTSE 100 was up 0.08 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 rose 0.17 percent while France's CAC-40 climbed 0.5 percent.

In Asia, markets were mostly upbeat, with Japan’s Nikkei-225 climbing 1.59 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended down 0.01 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.55 percent while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.32 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.22 percent while India’s BSE Sensex rose 1.11 percent.

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