A Mixed-Up Morning

 | Dec 12, 2013 | 8:59 AM EST  | Comments
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Stock-index futures reversed course higher Thursday morning after key indicators offered mixed economic data.

On a two-day market losing streak, Wall Street appears to be bracing for the Fed potentially scaling back its massive bond-buying program as recent evidence shows the economy improving.

But an unexpected jump in jobless claims to 368,000 last week and a surprise 0.7% gain in November retail sales this morning have Wall Street watchers scratching their heads trying to divine what, if anything, the central bank will do when the Federal Open Market Committee meets next week.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said import prices fell 0.7% in November, while export prices fell 0.5% month over month. Later this morning look for October business inventories from the Census Bureau at 10:00 a.m. EST, as well as its quarterly services survey.

Before the bell, telecom backbone company Ciena (CIEN), a recent Action Alerts PLUS buy, widely missed earnings estimates, and shares were down more than 10% in premarket training. Yoga-pants maker Lululemon Athletica (LULU), which made big changes in its executive suite earlier this week, reported solid third-quarter results, but shares fell sharply on a weak forecast.

After the close, Action Alerts PLUS holding Adobe (ADBE) is expected to report earnings of $0.32 per share on revenue of $1 billion. Surf and sportswear retailer Quicksilver (ZQK) and home furnisher Restoration Hardware (RH) are also on the earnings calendar.

Late Wednesday, Hilton Worldwide (HLT) priced 112 million shares at $20 apiece, at the high end of its range, raising more than $2.5 billion for its upcoming return to public trading. The global hotel chain was taken private by private-equity group Blackstone (BX) for about $26 billion in 2007. And food-services company Aramark (ARMK) raised more than $700 million, pricing 36 million shares at $20 apiece, the low end of its expected range.

Also last night, apparel company Oxford Industries (OXM) missed third-quarter EPS calls by a penny, with sales and guidance in line with consensus. Coatings and sealant manufacturer Nordson (NDSN) missed EPS calls by a penny. Men's Wearhouse (MW), pitched in a heated takeover battle with rival men's clothier Jos. A. Bank (JOSB), easily beat top- and bottom-line quarterly views.

Social network Facebook (FB) and Alliance Data Systems (ADS) have been tapped to join the S&P 500 index. Facebook shares were up slightly in extended trading while ADS shares fell slightly.

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