Nike earnings, jobless claims, home sales: 3 things to watch for in the markets on Thursday

Seen through a store window, a Nike employee stands in the entryway of the Nike SoHo store in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Here are the most important things to know about Thursday before you hit the door.

1. Nike earnings on deck

Shoe giant Nike reports fiscal second quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday. Needham expects the retailer to report earnings of 56 cents per share, compared to the 52 cents earned in the same quarter last year. The firm estimates North American sales to grow 6%, compared to 5.5% growth in the second quarter of 2018.

"We view Nike's strong brand and product momentum, combined with favorable read-throughs for early fall, point to a solid quarter," said Needham retail analyst Rick Patel.

Patel also said he expects performance in China and the emerging markets will get a boost from Nike's app launches.

"We think NKE is benefiting from ongoing structural changes in the sales mix towards Direct as well as product innovation, especially for price points <$100," said Patel.

Shares of Nike have climbed an impressive 35% this year, beating the broad markets.

2. Jobless claims

We'll get a read on the health of the labor market on Thursday when the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Economists are estimating 227,000 Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, according to Dow Jones.

We saw an unnerving jump in jobless claims last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 49,000 to a seasonally adjusted 252,000, a two-year high. The data likely doesn't signal a pickup in layoffs as the claims data tends to be volatile in the period following the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

3. Home sales to slump?

We'll also get November's existing home sales on Thursday. Economists are estimating a 0.4% drop to 5.44 million U.S. homes sold in November, according to Dow Jones. This comes after October's better-than-expected 1.9% rise to 5.46 million homes sold.

The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates three times this year, which has bolstered the housing market by lowering mortgage rates.

Major events (all times ET):

8:30 a.m. Initial claims

8:30 a.m. Philadelphia Fed survey

8:30 a.m. Current account

10:00 a.m. Existing homes

10:00 a.m. Leading Index

Major earnings:

Darden Restaurants (before the bell)

Accenture (before the bell)

FactSet (before the bell)

Nike (after the bell)

—with reporting from CNBC's Michael Bloom.