Droopy start seen for Wall St.

Stock futures are pointing to a weak start Thursday, a day after the Dow's eight-day winning streak ended.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks could have a little trouble getting back on track Thursday as they await the March sales from major retailers.

Stock futures were slightly lower in early trading, with a comparison to fair value, which predicts the direction of stocks at the open, pointing to a flat open for the S&P 500 and a lower open for Nasdaq.

Oil prices rose 65 cents to $62.66 a barrel in premarket trade, pushed higher by Wednesday's drop in inventories.

Treasury prices edged up slightly with the benchmark 10-year yielding 4.73 percent, down from 4.74 percent Wednesday after the release of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes, which indicated that more interest rate hikes may be needed to fight inflation.

In currency, the dollar remained steady against the euro and edged up just slightly against the yen.

Overseas, Asian stocks edged down as the markets digested the FOMC meeting minutes, while Europe turned weaker.

In corporate news, Nestlť SA (Charts) is expected to announce a $5 billion deal to acquire baby-food maker Gerber, a household name in the United States, from Swiss drugmaker Novartis (Charts).

NovaStar Financial (Charts), a struggling U.S. subprime lender, said Wednesday it is exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. Its shares shot up 17.2 percent in after-hours trading on the news.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (Charts) reported a sharply higher fourth-quarter profit Wednesday, but also revealed the Securities and Exchange Commission has upgraded its informal probe into its stock options practice into a formal investigation. Its shares fell nearly 7 percent on the news.

Biotech Genentech (Charts) reported results that beat forecasts, but its shares also lost ground in after-hours trading.

The Wall Street Journal reports that activist shareholder Ralph Whitworth has built a nearly 1 percent stake in wireless telecom Sprint Nextel (Charts) and is using his position to call for changes at the company, including a pullback in its capital spending and a potential sale of its fiber-optic networking and long-distance operation.


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