Futures Remain Flat as FedEx Results Outweigh Jobs, Housing Data

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Stock futures were little changed going into Thursday's session as a disappointing earnings report by FedEx (NYSE:FDX) outweighed generally-positive economic data on housing and jobs.

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Traders were also monitoring developments out of Europe, where European Union leaders are meeting to discuss solutions to the euro-zone debt crisis.

As of 8:45 a.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 10 points, or 0.09%, to 11425, the S&P 500 futures were up 0.8 points to 1232.70 and the Nasdaq 100 future gained 4.75 points to 2206.00.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people who filed for unemployment insurance last week fell by 3,000 to 420,000 claims. Economists had expected a mild rise in that indicator to 425,000 claims, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

Meanwhile the Commerce Department said housing starts rose to a pace of 555,000 annualized units in November, jumping up from the 519,000 units reported in October. Economists were looking for housing starts to rise to 545,000 units.

Despite the strong data, Wall Street seemed to focus on the earnings results out of transportation company FedEx (NYSE:FDX). Shares of the courier company fell 2.5% in pre-market trading after it reported an adjusted fiscal second-quarter profit of $1.16 per share, well short of the $1.31 per share analysts had been looking for. For its current quarter, FedEx said it expects earnings between 95 cents and $1.15 per share compared with the average $1.11 per share analyst estimate.

Like its main competitor UPS (NYSE:UPS), FedEx is typically monitored by Wall Street as a broad gauge of economic activity.

In other news, the top financial heads of the European Union's member nations began a two-day summit on Thursday with the goal of finding solutions to stemming what has become a systemic sovereign debt problem throughout the EU.

Countries like Greece and Ireland have already been bailed out and a growing number of people believe that Portugal and Spain could be next. The credit rating agency Moody’s issued a warning Wednesday that it may have to downgrade Spain’s credit rating for the second time in six months due to deteriorating financial conditions.

Despite the warning, the Spanish government was able to sell $3.2 billion worth of bonds on Thursday to investors in what was a closely-watched auction, although yields continue to rise for the Mediterranean country.

In commodities, oil was down 0.5% to $88.22 a barrel and gold was lower by 0.2% to $1383.70 a troy ounce.

Company News

Drugstore chain Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) cut its full-year forecast on Thursday and said same-store sales would miss expectations. The struggling drug store company now expects a net loss between 60 cents and 74 cents a share while analysts had, on average, expected a loss of 13 cents per share.

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