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Wall Street eyes retail sales, earnings

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Thursday, as investors mulled the impact of the strong U.S. dollar and economic data.

Retail sales for February fell 0.6 percent, missing expectations of a slight gain. Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services were unchanged after a 0.1 percent decline in January.

The so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

The second straight month of weakness suggests a marked slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter after the fourth quarter's surge.

Analysts were looking at retail sales for a confirmation of consumer confidence that indicated a stronger economy on all fronts, not just in employment numbers.

Weekly jobless claims fell more than expected to 289,000, below the prior week's 320,000.

Import prices for February rose 0.4 percent, versus a revised decline of 3.1 percent in January. Export prices declined 0.1 percent, less than January's decline of 1.9 percent.

Intel lowered its first quarter revenue outlook, noting weaker demand for business desktop PCs and that inventory levels are lower than expected.

Dollar General matched estimates with quarterly profit of $1.17 per share, though revenue was slightly below estimates.The discount retailer also initiated a quarterly dividend of 22 cents per share.

Read MoreDollar General forecasts profit below estimates

The retailer announced on Saturday plans to expand into Oregon, Maine and Rhode Island, taking its presence to 43 states.

Shoppers are at the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Alcorn | Reuters
Shoppers are at the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles.

Shake Shack, which recently went public, reported a fourth-quarter loss and said same-restaurant sales growth would slow this year.

El Pollo Loco will also release quarterly numbers on Thursday, along with upscale homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, Vail Resorts and Civeo, an oil services spin-off.

Traders will eye the reports for any mention of the impact of the high U.S. dollar, which reached a 12-year high on Wednesday. The dollar index, which tracks greenback against a basket of currencies, fell around 0.8 percent on Thursday.

Read MoreEuro-dollar parity: It's now in Yellen's hands

Banks stocks could be worth an eye on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve published the results of the second part of its annual stress test. Bank of America was told it must submit a revised capital strategy to the Fed by the end of September, or risk a restriction to its buyback and dividend plans.

U.S. units of Deutsche Bank and Santander failed the stress tests. These banks will be barred from issuing dividends or buybacks until a new plan is approved (though Deutsche's U.S. unit had not planned any dividends or buybacks in the first place).

Also in Europe, TSB shares rose almost 25 percent after the U.K. bank confirmed that Spain's Sabadell had made a preliminary offer.

Business inventories data for January and the latest monthly Federal Budget statement will come out later in the day.

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In the bond markets, there will be a 30-year U.S. Treasury auction.

Reuters and CNBC's Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.