Futures came off their best levels Thursday after a weaker than expected jobless claims and a disappointing retail sales report, but held some gains after successful bond auctions in Europe which also pushed European stocks higher and sent the euro to a session high.
Spain sold 4.2 billion euros in a new 3-year issue and 2.5 million euros in an existing bond maturing in 2016, raising more twice the amount it had targeted. Yields fell across the board.
Italy also successfully sold government debt, with the lowest yield on the 12-month maturity since June 2011.
Meanwhile, the ECB left interest rates unchanged at 1.0 percent in its first policy meeting of the year, in line with market expectations.
European shares were higher, led by financials. The rally pushed U.S. banks higher, boosting Bank of America's stock near $7.
On the economic front, weekly claims for unemployment benefits gained more than expected, according to the Labor Department, climbing by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 399,000, the highest in six weeks. The four-week average claims also rose to 381,750 from 374,000.
Meanwhile, retail sales rose a disappointing 0.1 percent in December, the weakest pace in seven months.
November business inventories are due at 10 am ET.
Concerns over company earnings could linger after Dow component Chevron warned after Wednesday’s closing bell that profit in the fourth quarter would be significantly lower than in the previous quarter.
Indian software group Infosys reported a disappointing outlook for growth, sending its shares sharply lower.
Sears Holdings tumbled after a report that said CIT Group will no longer provide loans to the struggling retailer's suppliers to finance their shipments.
Among retailers, Williams-Sonoma also plunged after the high-end kitchenware chain slashed its earnings outlook due to heavy discounting during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, Home Depot edged higher after the home improvement chain said it plans to hire more than 70,000 temporary workersfor the spring season.
The government is scheduled to auction $13 billion in 30-year bonds at 1pm ET.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met Japanese Finance Minister in Tokyo. Japan said it would support the U.S. campaign to toughen sanctions on Iran, and pledged to steadily reduce oil imports from the country.
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On Tap This Week:
THURSDAY: Business inventories, 30-yr bond auction
FRIDAY: International trade, import & export prices, consumer sentiment, Richmond Fed Pres speaks; Earnings from JPMorgan
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