The Dow and S&P 500 are riding four-session winning streaks as we head into the Thursday session, the first streaks of that length since late January. The Dow's Wednesday gain was good for another record close, with the S&P less than 24 points shy of its all-time closing high.
Investors are increasingly focused on tomorrow morning's February employment report, but there's plenty of economic data to consider today as well. The government will issue three separate reports at 8:30 a.m. New York time: weekly jobless claims, the January trade deficit, and revised fourth quarter productivity figures. Consensus forecasts call for an increase of 6,000 in jobless claims to 350,000 for last week, a January trade gap of $43.3 billion after December's $38.5 billion, and a revised fourth quarter productivity drop of 1.6 percent, slightly better than the originally reported 2.0 percent decrease.
At 3 p.m. New York time, the government issues January consumer credit figures, which are expected to show credit increasing by $15.5 billion in January compared to a $14.6 billion increase in December.
The Energy Department will issue its weekly look at natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m.
Supermarket chain Kroger (KR) and pork processor Smithfield Foods (SFD) are among the companies set to issue quarterly earnings today, along with networking equipment maker Ciena (CIEN). H&R Block (HRB), the country's largest tax preparation firm, is the most prominent of those set to release earnings after today's closing bell.
PetSmart (PETM) leads our list of stocks to watch, reporting fourth quarter profit of $1.24 per share, three cents above estimates, as sales and profit margins grew. However, the pet supplies retailer is forecasting 2013 profit of $3.76 - $3.92 per share, below estimates of $3.93.
Facebook (FB) is adding University of California at San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellman to its board of directors. Desmond-Hellman is a doctor and former executive at biotech firm Genentech. Separately, Facebook will be unveiling a new look for its "newsfeed" today.
Boeing (BA) is also on the watch list as the NTSB plans to release its interim report on its investigation involving the 787 Dreamliner at 11 a.m. this morning.
Time Warner (TWX) is planning to separate its Time Inc. unit into a separate publicly traded company. Time Inc. is the publisher of such popular magazines as Time, Sports Illustrated, and People. The company had been in talks to combine some of its titles with those published by Meredith Corp. (MDP), but those talks broke down.
TD Ameritrade (AMTD) President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Tomczyk will sell up to 200,000 shares of the 2.5 million shares he currently holds. He will use the proceeds to fulfill liquidity needs and to satisfy charitable commitments.
Dell (DELL) shareholder Richard Pzena, who holds a large stake in the computer maker, tells CNBC's Scott Wapner he's happy about Carl Icahn's reported new stake in the computer maker. CNBC's David Faber reported yesterday that Icahn has bought a position in Dell over the last two weeks and is likely to oppose the company's buyout proposal.