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Europe, Asia Markets Leading Way Higher?

Bob Pisani is off; this post was written by CNBC producer Robert Hum.

Stock futures were slightly higher early Thursday, as European and Asian markets have rebounded strongly following yesterday’s rally in the U.S. Futures have held steady throughout the morning with their gains intact even after the flurry of economic data and retail sales reports this morning.

A busy morning of economic data:

1) At 8:15am ET, ahead of the government’s non-farm payrolls report tomorrow, ADP released its employment report, showing a slightly disappointing gain in private sector jobs in May (up 55,000 vs. up 60,000 consensus). However, April’s number was significantly revised upwards, doubling from 32,000 to 65,000.

2) Then at 8:30am ET, weekly jobless claims were also released, coming in essentially inline with estimates (453,000 vs. 455,000 consensus) while Q1 productivity was revised slightly below expectations (up 2.8 percent vs. up 3.3 percent consensus).

In focus this morning were the May same-store sales from U.S. retailers. The retail sales numbers were simply a very mixed bag:

Beating estimates were department stores Macy’s and Kohl’s, apparel stores Limited, Gap and Aeropostale, discounters Target and BJ’s Wholesale Club, and off-priced stores TJX and Ross Stores.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
GPS
---
KSS
---
LB
---
M
---
ROST
---
TGT
---
TJX
---

On the flip side, missing estimates were teen retailers American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch — which both reported DECLINES in comps — and department stores JCPenney and Nordstrom.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
WEMMX
---
XXICM
---
JCP
---
JWN
---

Retailers provided little commentary or updated earnings guidance in their reports. A couple trends worth noting:

a) Many of the retailers that beat estimates only exceeded the consensus by a very slight margin (by 1 percentage point or less) — a contrast to the strong beats seen earlier this year

b) As expected, the late Memorial Day hurt sales. Macy’s pointed out that the calendar shift hurt May sales by at least 3.6 percentage points. Similar comments were echoed by JCPenney, Kohl’s, Aeropostale, and BJ Wholesale.

Elsewhere:

1) BP is up 4 percent despite seeing its long-term debt rating cut by Fitch to AA. The ratings agency also puts the oil firm on negative watch citing continuing concerns over the company’s liability and the civil/criminal probes into the company as a result of the ongoing Gulf oil leak.

2) JPMorgan Chase rises 1 percent despite news that it was fined a record $49 million by UK watchdog Financial Services Authority (FSA). The agency accused the US bank of failing to protect billions of dollars in client funds for several years by neglecting to follow certain UK money rules.

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