Jobless claims climbed by 24,000 to 399,000 in the week ended Jan. 7, Labor Department figures showed. The median forecast of 46 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 375,000. Retail sales climbed 0.1 percent in December following a 0.4 percent advance in November that was more than initially reported, Commerce Department figures showed. Economists forecast a 0.3 percent December rise, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Purchases excluding automobiles fell 0.2 percent.
U.S. futures followed European shares higher earlier today as Spain sold 10 billion euros ($13 billion) of bonds, twice the target for the sale, while Italy sold 12 billion euros of bills, easing concerns the countries would struggle to finance their debts. The European Central Bank held interest rates steady after two straight cuts as signs of respite from the sovereign debt crisis gave it scope to pause.
European stocks pared gains after reports showed initial jobless claims last week in the U.S. increased more than estimated, while advance retail sales missed projections.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc rose 6.7 percent after announcing job cuts. Sulzer AG (SUN), the world’s second-largest maker of pumps, added 4.8 percent after saying full-year orders increased 14 percent. Tesco Plc sank 15 percent, leading retail shares lower, after the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain said it was “disappointed” with festive trading. Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Delhaize Group SA (DELB) tumbled.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.3 percent to 250.65 at 1:37 p.m. in London, paring an earlier advance of as much as 0.9 percent. Stock rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve yesterday confirmed the world’s largest economy continues to grow and borrowing costs fell at bond auctions by Spain and Italy. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.2 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost less than 0.1 percent.
Williams-Sonoma lowered its full-year and fourth-quarter guidance, despite improved holiday sales, citing high promotional activity during the holidays. The high-end home-furnishing retailer’s shares slumped 8.3% to $35.85 in recent premarket trading.
Struggling Sears suffered another setback when a large lender said it would no longer finance loans to suppliers awaiting payment from the company, The Wall Street Journal reported. Shares fell 10% to $29.51 premarket.
The Federal Trade Commission likely will block nursing-home pharmacy firm Omnicare’s offer to buy rival PharMerica Corp., the New York Post reported Thursday on its website, citing a person close to the situation. Omnicare’s shares dropped 4.9% to $33.63 premarket, and PharMerica slipped 9.6% to $13.53.
Dutch financial services company ING Groep NV Thursday said it will abandon its plan to float its European-Asian insurance operations as one entity because choppy markets in Europe make it difficult to unload it. Shares rose 6.6% to $8.21 premarket.
U.S.-listed share of India software group Infosys Ltd. fell 9.4% to $51.50 premarket after the group reportedly posted a 33% rise in quarterly net profit, but sharply cut its dollar forecast for the year.
Tractor Supply Co. projected fourth-quarter revenue slightly above analysts’ expectations, leading it to again raise its earnings guidance for 2011. Shares of the largest U.S. chain of farm and ranch stores rose 5.4% to $76.90 in recent premarket trading.
Multi-Fineline Electronix Inc. said late Wednesday that fiscal first-quarter revenue was higher than expected because supply chain shortages from the flooding in Thailand improved and as shipments to its largest customer increased. Shares of the company, which makes flexible printed circuits and circuit assemblies, jumped 11% to $23.81 in recent premarket trading Wednesday.
PVH Corp. boosted its fiscal fourth-quarter guidance after the apparel company’s Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands delivered stronger sales, offsetting weaker performance in its Heritage business. Shares still fell 3.6% to $71.25 premarket as PVH warned that this year’s earnings growth would take place entirely in the second half, citing higher product costs and negative foreign-exchange effects in the coming months.
Chevron Corp. warned investors it expects its fourth-quarter 2011 earnings to be “significantly” lower than in the preceding quarter, when higher margins and the sale of a major refinery buoyed results. Shares slid 1.4% to $106.24 premarket.
Questcor Pharmaceutical Inc. defended itself Wednesday after the drug maker learned of a Wall Street blog’s plan to publish negative reports on its business practices. Shares rose 2.6% to $36.27 in recent premarket trading.
U.S.-listed shares of Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize Group fell 8.6% to $54.48 in thin pre-opening trade, following losses in Europe after the group said it will cut 5,000 jobs after disappointing fourth-quarter sales.
Cache Inc. said it expects its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings to be lower than previously expected due to increased promotions in December, but the shopping-mall operator issued first-quarter guidance above analyst expectations. Shares slipped 4.6% to $5.60 premarket.
Online media company Local.com Corp. announced record fourth-quarter 2011 search traffic. Shares rose 5.7% to $2.60 premarket.
DragonWave Inc.’s fiscal third-quarter loss widened as sales continued to slump and margins declined. Shares dropped 14% to $3.25 premarket.