Futures Hold Gains After Economic Reports
U.S. stock index futures held small gains Thursday following a batch of economic reports, but worries over the ongoing "fiscal cliff" negotiations kept investors cautious.
On the economic front, producer prices fell 0.8 percent in November, declining for the second month, according to the Labor Department, as the cost of energy dropped the most in over three years. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a decline of 0.5 percent.
Jobless claims fell for the fourth-straight week, dropping 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, according to the Labor Department. Meanwhile, the four-week moving average for new claims fell 27,000 to 381,500.
Additionally, retail sales edged up 0.3 percent in November, according to the Commerce Department, but the gain was less than the increase of 0.5 percent economists had expected, according to a Reuters poll.
Meanwhile, top central banks around the world including the Federal Reserve, the ECB, the Bank of England agreed to extend their arrangements to extend their credit lines for another year. The Bank of Japan is to consider the measure at its next meeting.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve met market expectations with another round of easing, this time with a pledge to keep interest rates low until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent and inflation tops 2.5 percent. But Chairman Ben Bernanke pointed out that even after the employment and inflation targets are triggered, that won't lead to an automatic raising of rates.
He also reiterated fear over the "fiscal cliff," saying that even the Fed's massive balance sheet expansion wouldn't be enough to stave off the effects, though the Fed may accelerate its asset purchases should cliff take effect. (Read more: El-Erian: Why Markets Shrugged Fed's Historic Move)
European shares were lower despite the announcement that finance ministers had reached agreement to grant the European Central Bank (ECB) greater regulatory powers over the euro zone's biggest banks.
Best Buy surged amid expectations founder Richard Schulze will make a formal takeover offer for the consumer-electronics retailer this week in the range of $5 billion to $6 billion, according to a report.
Yum Brands gained after Goldman Sachs upgraded the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut to "buy" from "neutral."
Among earnings, Adobe Systems is expected to post results after the closing bell.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Business inventories, 30-yr bond auction; Earnings from Adobe Systems
FRIDAY: CPI, industrial production, Facebook lockup lifts
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