Stock Futures Hold Steady After Data

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

Stock-index futures were little changed on Thursday morning as traders mulled better-than-expected weekly jobless claims data and monthly sales results from retailers.

Today's Markets

As of 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 7 points to 12661, S&P 500 futures rose 1.3 points to 1321 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 1.5 points to 2489.

Wall Street had a strong start to February on Wednesday, with the broad S&P 500 gaining 0.89% and the Nasdaq rallying 1.2%. Both broad market averages are up sharply for the year as well.

Market participants will have a smattering of corporate and economic reports to parse through on the day.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 367,000 last week from an upwardly revised 379,000 the week prior, the Labor Department said. Economists had been expecting claims to fall to 375,000 from an initial reading of 377,000. A separate report released on Thursday from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed employers shedding 53,486 jobs in January, the largest total since September.

The more closely watched monthly employment report is on tap for Friday. Analysts will be looking to see if the pace of recovery picked up or slowed down in the first month of 2012.

On the corporate front, retailers post their same-store sales results from January throughout the day.

Retail giant Target (NYSE:TGT) saw its post-holiday sales jump 4.3%, zipping past estimates of 2.1%. Macy's (NYSE:M), the department store, revealed a 2.4% increase as compared to estimates of a 3.5% increase.

Facebook filed its initial public offering prospectus with U.S. securities regulators late Wednesday. The IPO is expected to be one of the biggest in history and comes as part of a fresh round of offerings from Internet companies like Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN).

Merck (NYSE:MRK) posted a fourth-quarter profit of 97 cents a share on revenue of $12.3 billion. Wall Street expected the healthcare giant to earn 95 cents on $12.53 billion. The Dow component said it sees its full-year EPS hitting between $3.75 and $3.85, compared to analysts’ average $3.83 estimate.

In Europe, debt talks between Greece and its private creditors went on for another day despite reports an agreement was imminent. Both sides have said they expect a deal to be forged this week, but as the week nears its close, hopes are dimming among market participants.

The euro fell 0.44% to $1.3103, while the U.S. dollar rose 0.35% against a basket of six world currencies tracked by the dollar index.

Commodities markets struggled amid a modestly stronger greenback. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell $1.01, or 1%, to $96.60 a barrel after hitting a fresh 2012 settlement low on Wednesday. Wholesale RBOB gasoline slipped 0.74% to $2.871 a gallon.

In metals, gold fell $2.90, or 0.16%, to $1,746 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.15%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.22% to 5,778 and the German DAX was flat at 6,617.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.76% to 8,877 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 2% to 20,739.