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US stock futures drop further after claims, retail sales

U.S. stock-index futures signaled a sharply lower open on Thursday, as investors reacted to disappointing economic reports on the labor front and retail sales for January.

The government reported retail sales fell 0.1 percent in January from December. Excluding autos, retail sales were flat. A separate report showed 339,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, versus expectations for 330,000.

PepsiCo reported before the opening bell, along with Discovery Communications and Molson Coors Brewing.

PepsiCo reported a 5 percent jump in quarterly profit, helped by strong sales of Frito-Lay chips in the Americas and cost-cutting measures.

AIG and Kraft Foods will post numbers after U.S. markets close.

Business inventories for December and natural gas inventories will be published at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectively.

(Read more: Retail sales - Another chance to blame the weather)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's scheduled appearance before the Senate Banking Committee will not take place on Thursday, due to the exceptionally poor weather.

Stock in Comcast will be in focus on Thursday, after it agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable in an all-stock transaction worth roughly $159 a share. The new company created by the $44 billion purchase would be by far the largest cable provider in the U.S. with over 33 million subscribers.

(Read more: Comcast set to buyTime Warner Cable in all-stock deal)

The Treasury is due to sell 30-year bonds.

(Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Reuters contributed to this report.

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