Stocks set for timid open after weak reports

@CNNMoneyInvest January 12, 2012: 9:23 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stock futures got an early boost Thursday after Italy and Spain's first bond auctions of the year drew solid demand, calming fears about Europe's debt crisis. But futures quickly lost momentum after the release of weak economic reports from the U.S. government.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were slightly higher ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Eyes were on Italy and Spain, which need to refinance billions of euros of debt this year. Investors had been demanding higher interest rates, stoking concerns about the governments' solvency.

At their bond auctions early Thursday, both nations successfully raised more funds than expected and at lower borrowing rates than they paid a mere month ago. However, investor optimism was curbed after weak economic reports from the United States.

Initial unemployment claims for the week ended Jan. 7 totaled 399,000, reported the U.S. government. The number was worse than expected. Claims were forecasted to come in at 375,000, according to analysts surveyed by Briefing.com.

Meanwhile, retail sales in December rose 0.1%. They were expected to have increased by 0.4%.

U.S. stocks ended Wednesday's trading session little changed, as concerns about Europe's weak economy and debt crisis weighed on the market.

World markets: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is expected to speak before the start of trading on Wall Street. Although the ECB held rates steady at 1% on Thursday, Draghi is expected to signal a prolonged period of low interest rates in the future.

European stocks climbed in midday trading, but lost some of their earlier momentum. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) added 0.2%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany gained 1.3% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 1%.

Foreclosures fall to lowest level since 2007

Asian markets ended mostly lower, after a report showed inflation slowed in China, but not quite as much as expected.

The Consumer Price Index released by China's government showed prices were up 4.1% in the 12 months ending in December. It marked a slowdown from 4.2% rate in November. Economists had expected the inflation rate to fall to 4%.

The Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong lost 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) fell 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) was flat.

Companies: Shares of Sears Holdings (SHLD, Fortune 500) fell 10% in early trading, after a Bloomberg report that CIT Group (CIT, Fortune 500) is halting loans to the retailers' suppliers.

Bank stocks are mostly higher in premarket trading, with Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) up 2%, Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) up 2% and JP Morgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) up 2%.

Energy stocks are lower before the opening bell, with Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) falling slightly and Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) down 2%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and the British pound, but rose versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for February delivery added 56 cents to $101.43 a barrel.

Gold futures for February delivery gained $14.50 to $1,654.10 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.91%.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,563.30 -317.06 -1.88%
Nasdaq 4,369.77 0.00 0.00%
S&P 500 1,930.67 -39.40 -2.00%
Treasuries 2.56 0.00 0.08%
Data as of 4:40am ET
Company Price Change % Change
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Micron Technology In... 30.55 -1.98 -6.09%
Apple Inc 95.60 -2.55 -2.60%
Facebook Inc 72.65 -2.03 -2.71%
Pfizer Inc 28.70 -0.56 -1.91%
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