Stocks set for timid open ahead of Bernanke

@CNNMoneyInvest February 2, 2012: 8:55 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were set for a timid open Thursday as traders await comments from Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, and keep a wary eye on Greece's debt talks.

S&P 500 (SPX) ticked up 0.9%, Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 0.7% and Nasdaq (COMP) climbed 1.2% ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Investors welcomed signs Wednesday that Greek officials appeared to be making progress toward a debt-reduction agreement with private-sector creditors and a second bailout.

Investors will be watching for further progress as the week draws to a close, in the hope that a deal is reached.

Back in the United States, Bernanke heads to Capitol Hill to testify about the Fed's economic outlook before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. ET. Investors will be tuning in to get more clarity on central bank's pledge last week to keep interest rates ultra low until the end of 2014.

The Labor Department released its latest data on initial unemployment claims and productivity on Thursday before the bell, showing that the number of people filing were a bit lower than expected.

Meanwhile, tech shares will react to Facebook's long-awaited IPO filing, which came after the closing bell Wednesday. The social network's valuation is still speculative until it actually starts trading, but it's attempting to raise $5 billion with its IPO.

U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, but closed off the highs of the day, on a combination of improved economic data and easing concerns about Europe's debt crisis.

World markets: European stocks were little changed in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) edged lower 0.1%, while the DAX (DAX) in Germany added 0.2% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) was flat.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) climbed 2%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 2% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) rose 0.8%.

Economy: Initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 28 totaled 367,000, according to the government. They were expected to total 375,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to show that fourth-quarter productivity ticked up 0.7%, versus the previous year.

A few reports are pointing to a slowdown in hiring in January. Data released Thursday morning from outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows planned job cuts surged 28% in January to 53,486 -- marking the highest total since 116,000 job cuts announced in September.

The Challenger report follows data Wednesday from payroll processor ADP saying that the private sector added 170,000 jobs in January, down sharply from 292,000 in December.

The government's highly anticipated jobs report due out Friday morning, is expected to show the U.S. economy added 130,000 jobs in January, according to economists surveyed by CNNMoney. That would mark a sharp slowdown in hiring versus December, when 200,000 jobs were created. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.6%.

Facebook files for $5 billion IPO

Companies: Retailers will report same-store sales throughout the day.

Abercrombie & Fitch's (ANF) stock fell 12.5% in premarket trading, after the clothing retailer reported flat same-store sales for the latest quarter and lowered their earnings guidance.

Zynga (ZNGA) shares rallied 3.5% in premarket trading, following Facebook's IPO filing. Zynga's gaming apps and advertising contributed about 12% of Facebook revenue last year.

"We currently generate significant revenue as a result of our relationship with Zynga, and, if we are unable to successfully maintain this relationship, our financial results could be harmed," said Facebook in its filing.

Sony (SNE) shares fell 5.4% in premarket trading, after the company reported disappointing earnings and revenue.

Unilever (UN) shares slumped 4.8% after the maker of Lipton teas, Dove soaps and other consumer products said it had difficulty passing higher raw material costs on to consumers last year, and announced a gloomy outlook for 2012.

Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500), a company that sells chips used in cell phones, boosted its forecast for its 2012 performance. Shares rose 4.3% in premarket trading.

Merck (MRK, Fortune 500) shares were flat in premarket trading, after the drugmaker reported earnings in line with estimates but revenue that fell short of expectations.

Viacom (VIAB, Fortune 500) shares fell 6.7% after the media giant reported better-than-expected earnings in its fiscal first quarter, but cited ratings weakness and softness in the U.S. television advertising market. Its film division swung to an operating loss in the quarter.

Dow Chemical (DOW, Fortune 500) posted quarterly results that fell short of expectations. Shares lost 3.5% in premarket trading.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) shares climbed 22.3% after the company reported its first-quarter revenue soared 102% compared to a year earlier, boosted by K-Cup sales.

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

Oil for March delivery slipped 46 cents to $97.15 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery added $2.10 to $1,751.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.83%.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
Nasdaq 4,449.56 -22.54 -0.50%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
Treasuries 2.47 -0.04 -1.59%
Data as of 12:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 75.19 0.21 0.28%
Apple Inc 97.67 0.64 0.66%
Bank of America Corp... 15.59 -0.03 -0.19%
Ford Motor Co 17.62 -0.22 -1.23%
Applied Materials In... 21.23 -0.52 -2.41%
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