Published December 13, 2012
NEW YORK – U.S. stocks were set to open little changed on Thursday as a new round of stimulus for the economy was not enough to offset worries over the impending "fiscal cliff," while investors awaited a round of economic reports.
Shares of Best Buy Co surged more than 11 percent after a report that the company's founder is expected to make a fully financed offer to buy the consumer electronics retailer by the end of the week. Best Buy was up 11.3 percent at $13.56 in premarket trade.
In a busy day of data, reports on U.S. producer prices, retail sales and first time claims for unemployment benefits will all be released at 8:30 a.m. Business inventories are due at 10 a.m.
In the European Union, finance ministers reached a deal to make the European Central Bank the bloc's top banking supervisor. The move could boost confidence in leaders' ability to tackle the region's sovereign debt crisis.
But the set of U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to come into effect in the new year remained at the forefront of investors' minds. Negotiators on Wednesday warned the showdown over reaching a deal could drag on past Christmas.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced a fresh bout of stimulus for the U.S. economy, but markets focused on comments from Chairman Ben Bernanke, who reiterated that monetary policy would not be enough to offset going over the fiscal cliff.
Investors are worried that doing so could send the economy back into recession, though most expect a deal will be struck eventually.
The central bank also took the unprecedented step of indicating interest rates would remain near zero until unemployment falls to at least 6.5 percent.
If a decline in the S&P 500 is sustained through the session, it would break a six-day winning streak. Still, some of those days have seen only slight gains on lower volume.
"Eventually the fiscal cliff will be addressed," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.
"The moves the market has had appear to represent a cautious optimism. Something will get done - if it gets done before the end of the year, the upside would be huge, I believe."
S&P 500 futures edged up 0.3 point but were still 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 were up 11 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 1.25 points.
Sprint Nextel Corp is looking to buy Clearwire Corp stock it does not already own for $2.90 per share, it said in a regulatory filing. Shares of Clearwire jumped 14.6 percent to $3.15. Sprint slipped 1.2 percent to $5.59 in light volume.
Ciena Corp fell 2.1 percent to $15.25 after the company reported results that missed expectations.
Australia's GrainCorp Ltd rejected a sweetened $2.9 billion bid from Archer Daniels Midland Co . Analysts said ADM was likely to lift its bid for the company.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)