Bears Gaining Traction On Wall Street

Wall Street sentiment appears to have turned decidedly negative as investors worry about a potential Fed pullback of its accommodative monetary policy. Wednesday's session saw the second 200 point drop for the Dow in four sessions, and the Dow enters the new day in danger of chalking up its first three-day losing streak of 2013.

Economic numbers and Fed commentary are once again likely to dominate investor attention during the Thursday session. The Labor Department is out with its weekly look at initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, with economists expecting a drop to 345,000 for last week from 354,000 the prior week. We'll also be getting May sales numbers from some retailers throughout the morning, although many of the major ones like Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) now only report sales on a quarterly basis.

The European Central Bank will issue a policy statement at 7:45 a.m. ET, and is expected to leave interest rates unchanged at record lows. That will be followed by ECB President Mario Draghi's news conference at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser both have speeches during the trading day, and although the topics of each talk are not centered on monetary policy, it's extremely likely to come up during q-and-a sessions.

The Energy Department will be out with its weekly look at natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Ann Inc. (ANN), the operator of retailer AnnTaylor, food producer J.M. Smucker (SJM), and network equipment maker Ciena (CIEN) are among the earnings reports scheduled for this morning, while Vail Resorts (MTN) and Cooper Companies (COO) will release their quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.

Verifone (PAY) is among our stocks to watch today, with the maker of credit card swipe machines reporting fiscal second quarter profit of $0.42 per share, excluding certain items, five cents below estimates. Revenues were also on the light side, and Verifone's current quarter EPS outlook of $0.20 is well below estimates of $0.50. Verifone's sales have been hurt by a slow spending environment for its customers.

SodaStream (SODA) is in talks to be bought by PepsiCo (PEP), according to Tel Aviv newspaper Calcalist. According to the report, Pepsi may be willing to pay as much as $95 per share, compared to a closing price Wednesday of $69.35.

Thermo Fisher (TMO) has announced a $2.2 billion stock offering, the biggest of 2013. The sale will help finance its acquisition of rival lab equipment maker Life Technologies (LIFE).

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) has announced a $2 billion stock buyback program. Chairman/CEO Sheldon Adelson points to the company's strong financial performance and better cash flows as a key reason, as the casino operator moves to return more money to shareholders.

Verizon (VZ) customers have had their phone records collected by the U.S. National Security Agency, according to a report published by the Guardian Newspaper. A court order allowing the move is said to have come at the request of the FBI.

NYSE Euronext (NYX) experienced an early trading glitch which caused exchanges in Paris, Lisbon, Brussels, and Amsterdam to open late. Trading has now returned to normal, according to an NYSE Euronext spokeswoman.

Apple (AAPL) will sell ads on its not-yet-announced music streaming service, according to a Reuters report. It's widely expected that the so-called "iRadio" service will be announced by Apple at its developers conference next week.

Costco (COST) reported a same-store sales increase of 5 percent for May, short of analyst estimates of a 5.5 percent increase.