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Oil slick part 2
Stock futures sink as crude hits fresh four-month high; durables orders and jobless claims due.
February 24, 2005: 7:03 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Stocks could get a chill again from another spike in oil prices Thursday.

U.S. stock futures fell in early trading, indicating a lower opening for stocks.

Cold weather in the Northeast United States and Europe sent oil prices up to a fresh four-month high in early trading. The spike comes ahead of Thursday's weekly report on U.S. fuel inventories, which was delayed a day this week due to the President's Day holiday.

The April light crude contract rose 38 cents to $51.55 a barrel in electronic trading, while the April contract for Brent crude added 46 cents to $48.98 a barrel in London.

Major markets in Asia closed higher after U.S. stocks rebounded Wednesday. Major European markets were mixed in early trading.

Bond prices edged higher, nudging the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 4.25 percent from 4.26 percent late Thursday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The dollar gained ground on the euro and was little changed against the yen.

In economic reports, the latest readings on jobless claims and durable goods orders are due.

Economists surveyed by forecast that new claims for jobless benefits rose to 308,000 from 302,000 the previous week. Durables orders are seen up 0.1 percent in January versus the 1.1 percent gain seen in December.

In corporate news, Boeing (Research) won an order reportedly worth close to $4 billion from Irish discount carrier Ryanair (Research), which is buying 70 737-800's.

The New York Times reported Thursday that a large real estate developer has dropped its plans to include a Wal-Mart (Research) store in a planned shopping center in the city's borough of Queens due to widespread opposition. The move would stop, at least for now, the world's largest retailer's efforts to open its first store in the nation's most populous city.

Martha Stewart may be able to negotiate a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would permit Stewart to return as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Research), according to a report in Newsweek's online edition Wednesday evening.

Stewart is due to get out of prison on her conviction of federal obstruction of justice charges early next month, and the SEC has filed a separate insider trading case against Stewart, and her attorney is seeking a settlement of that charge without a lifetime ban for her serving as an officer or director of the company, according to the report. The magazine reported that SEC officials told her lawyers that it would consider such a deal. Stewart holds the title of Chief Editorial and Media Director.

Earnings reports are due Thursday from media conglomerate Viacom (Research) as well as retailersJC Penney (Research) and Limited (Research), owner of such retail brands as Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. After the market retailer Gap (Research) is set to report.  Top of page


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