U.S. stock futures were lower ahead of the open, as investors reacted to a report that showed retail sales unexpectedly fell in January. Economists were looking for no change last month, but sales dropped 0.4%.
Investors were also disappointed after unemployment claims came in higher than expected last week.
Markets ended mixed Wednesday as investors took a breather after a four day winning streak.
Comcast has agreed to pay $158.82 per share for Time Warner Cable, a 17% premium to Wednesday's closing price. Time Warner Cable shares jumped 10% in premarket trading, while Comcast rose slightly. Also, shares in a smaller rival -- Cablevision Systems (Fortune 500)-- gained 2%. ,
Bad weather on the East Coast could also keep markets subdued. It has already forced Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen to postpone her second appearance this week before Congress, which was due Thursday. Her first day of testimony as chairman sent stocks sharply higher Tuesday.
In other company news, PepsiCo (Fortune 500) announced an increase in quarterly profit and revenue. Shares made slight gains. ,
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (Fortune 500) reported an increase in operating income for the quarter, compared to a year earlier, but a decline in revenue. ,
Kraft Foods (Fortune 500) is also scheduled to announce quarterly results on Thursday. ,
Netflix ( said it acquired the rights for the animated series )"Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
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