Retailers' January sales reports can't help but unleash a plethora of bad news ahead of Thursday's market open.
Stocks will also absorb whatever shocks there may be in weekly jobless claims data and the morning's batch of earnings reports. Companies reporting include Kellogg, MasterCard, Duke Energy, GlaxoSmithkline, Cigna and Tenneco. A negative for the market may be Cisco's disappointing sales forecast, released when it reported earnings after Wednesday's closing bell.
- Cisco CEO: No Layoffs for Now
On the economic front, productivity and labor costs are reported at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, the same time as jobless claims. December factory orders are reported at 10 a.m.
The European Central Bank and Bank of England are each scheduled to hold rate meetings ahead of the Wall Street open. Traders expect the ECB to hold rates steady this time, but the Bank of England is expected to cut to 1 percent. The dollar rose 1.5 percent against the euro Wednesday and 0.2 percent against the yen.
Wednesday's trading was choppy with stocks suffering an afternoon selloff. The Dow closed down 121 at 7956, and the S&P was off 6 at 832. Materials were the best performers, rising 1.5 percent, while telecom shares were the worst performers, falling 2.9 percent. Selling in Treasurys pushed the yield on the 10-year higher, to 2.914 percent, its highest level since Nov. 28.