Stocks: Investors mull weak Wal-Mart results

S&P futures 2014 05 15
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Wall Street has been looking closely at quarterly results from big retailers, especially Wal-Mart. And they don't like what they see.

Wal-Mart (WMT) , the world's largest retailer, reported first-quarter earnings and sales, and second-quarter forecasts that fell short of estimates. Shares of the Dow component slipped in premarket trading.

The company blamed several factors, including bad weather and a delay in tax refunds caused by last fall's government shutdown.

Retailer Kohl's (KSS) will also report before the open, while J.C. Penney (JCP) and Nordstrom (JWN) will report after the close.

U.S. stock futures were vacillating between small gains and losses Thursday morning.

The main premarket mover was Cisco Systems (CSCO). Shares were spiking by roughly 7% after the firm reported earnings that beat expectations.

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The fast-food industry is also in the spotlight Thursday as workers plan demonstrations in 150 cities around the world to protest low wages.

On the economic front, the U.S. government will publish weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its latest consumer price index information.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will be speaking about small business and the economy during a talk in Washington this evening.

U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday. The Dow tumbled about 100 points, backing away from three consecutive record closes. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also closed firmly in the red.

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European markets were edging down in midday trading after mixed economic data from the eurozone.

Asian markets had a mixed day. The Shanghai Composite index was the biggest mover among the main global indexes, dropping by 1.1%.

Investors in Japan pushed the Nikkei lower, shrugging off an impressive report on strong economic growth in the first quarter.

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