Stocks focus on U.S. recovery

@CNNMoneyInvest March 15, 2012: 9:16 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Investors head into Thursday looking for further evidence that the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery, but showed little reaction to a handful of economic reports.

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

The government released data on initial jobless claims and producer prices, as well as on foreign purchases of Treasuries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will also release the results of its regional outlook for March.

Overall, analysts say stocks are poised to continue heading higher, as the U.S. economy strengthens and Europe makes progress on its debt problems.

Bank stocks have been in focus this week following the results of the Federal Reserve's latest stress tests, which said a majority of the nation's largest banks would be able to weather another deep recession.

But the Fed said four institutions -- including Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Metlife (MET, Fortune 500) -- would likely need to raise more capital in the event of a severe financial shock or economic downturn.

Overall, U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, one day after a big advance, as declines in bank stocks vied with strength in the technology sector.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) shed 0.1%, while the DAX (DAX) in Germany added 0.4% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) was flat.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) lost 0.7%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong rose 0.2% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) gained 0.7%.

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Economy: Initial unemployment claims for the week ended March 10 fell to 351,000, compared to 365,000 the prior week. That was slightly less than the forecast of 355,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.

Producer prices for February increased 0.4%, which was slightly less than the expected increase of 0.5%. That's compared to January, when the PPI ticked up by 0.1%.

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The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey index is expected to stand at 12.5, up from 10.2 in the month prior.

Companies: Cisco Systems (CSCO, Fortune 500) of San Jose, Calif., announced on Thursday its $5 billion bid to buy NDS Group Ltd., a British provider of video software with 5,000 employees.

NDS is privately held by News Corp. (NWS) and Permira.

Publishing company Scholastic (SCHL) reported quarterly results Thursday morning, and discount retailer Ross Stores (ROST, Fortune 500) is expected to post results.

Scholastic reported revenue of $468 million and a loss per share of 10 cents, a much better performance than the $393 million in revenue and 70 cent-per-share loss that analysts had expected.

Ross Stores is expected to report earnings of 85 cents a share on $2.39 billion in revenue.

Capital One Financial (COF, Fortune 500) shares dropped 1.5% in premarket trading after the company announced a $1.25 billion common stock offering on Wednesday to help finance its acquisition of HSBC's (HBC) U.S. credit card business.

Also, Apple Inc. (AAPL, Fortune 500) jumped nearly 2% in premarket trading, nearly touching the $600 per share benchmark.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.

Oil for April delivery rose 31 cents to $105.74 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $1.50 to $1,644.40 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.31% from 2.27% late Wednesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,681.13 -199.23 -1.18%
Nasdaq 4,381.66 -81.24 -1.82%
S&P 500 1,941.45 -28.62 -1.45%
Treasuries 2.56 0.00 0.16%
Data as of 11:53am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Micron Technology In... 30.26 -2.27 -6.98%
Bank of America Corp... 15.33 -0.25 -1.60%
Apple Inc 96.01 -2.14 -2.18%
Facebook Inc 72.98 -1.70 -2.28%
Tyson Foods Inc 37.58 -0.62 -1.62%
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