Futures Tick Up as Traders Mull ECB, Data
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U.S. stock-index futures inched higher Thursday as traders mulled the European Central Bank's monetary policy decision, data on the U.S. labor market and retail sales figures.
As of 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 3 points to 13925, S&P 500 futures dipped 1.5 points were flat at 1507 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 1.3 points to 2738.
Wall Street's attention was split between the U.S. and Europe on the day.
The European Central Bank kept its main refinancing rate at 0.75%, as expected. President Mario Draghi is set to speak later in the day, an event that often moves the markets. Draghi is faced with a eurozone economy that is still struggling and growth unevenly distributed between members states.
The Bank of England also held its benchmark interest rate at 0.5% and the target for its quantitative easing program at $588 billion, as expected. The BoE also said the U.K. economy is set for a "slow but sustained recovery."
On the data front, the U.S. Labor Department said new claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to 366,000 last week from an upwardly revised 371,000. Claims were expected to fall to 360,000 from an initially reported 368,000. The Federal Reserve is set to provide its latest look at consumer credit conditions at 3:00 p.m. ET.
German factory output climbed at a pace of 0.3% in December, besting estimates by 0.1-percentage point, and swinging back from a 0.2% contraction in November. Germany is Europe's biggest economy, and while it has struggled to recover from the debt crisis, it's been a bright spot in the eurozone.
On the corporate front, Macy's (NYSE:M) saw its same-store sales jump 11.7% on a year-to-year basis in January, easing besting estimates of a 6.2% gain. Target's (NYSE:TGT) results beat expectations too, with same-store sales climbing 3.1% compared to expectations of 1.7%. Gap (NYSE:GPS) doubled Wall Street's estimate with an 8% increase in same-store sales.
In commodities, oil prices climbed after a volatile trading session Wednesday. The benchmark U.S. contract rose 34 cents, or 0.35%, to $96.96 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline gained 0.68% to $3.06 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $1.20, or 0.07%, to $1,678 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.54% to 2631, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.26% to 6280 and the German DAX edged up by 0.45% to 7615.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slumped 0.93% to 11357 and the Chinese Hang Seng dipped 0.34% to 23177.