The Day Ahead: Overhang Hangover

 | Dec 19, 2013 | 8:45 AM EST
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With the Federal Reserve's tapering overhang lifted Wednesday, U.S. stocks rallied and the Dow added nearly 300 points to a new record high as money flowed back into equities. But futures pulled back slightly Thursday morning ahead of another round of important economic indicators.

Up first, the Labor Department said 379,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, 10,000 more than the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis. Economists had expected new claims to fall to 337,000 last week. Existing-home sales, leading indicators and the Philadelphia Fed survey are due for release at 10 a.m. And Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher will give a speech on the Texas economy in Dallas at 8:30 a.m.

Overseas, European markets were rallying on the Federal Open Market Committee's tapering news. Asian exchanges were mixed overnight, with Japan's Nikkei 225 coming in as a standout performer.

Early U.S. earnings include consulting firm Accenture (ACN), which beat top- and bottom-line estimates this morning, helping shares higher in premarket trading. Home furnisher Pier 1 (PIR) missed earnings-per-share estimates by $0.02, Rite Aid (RAD) EPS were in line and food conglomerate ConAgra (CAG) beat net-income calls by a wide margin. And restaurant operator Darden's (DRI) weak quarterly results were somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that it will spin off its Red Lobster chain.

Also, look for quarterly reports from industrial-products company Actuant (ATU), homebuilder KB Home (KBH) and cruise-ship operator Carnival (CCL) before the bell. Action Alerts PLUS holdings Red Hat (RHT) and Nike (NKE) are due to report after the close, along with AAR Corp. (AIR) and Cintas (CTAS).

Late Wednesday, strong fiscal second-quarter earnings from Oracle (ORCL) boosted shares of the software giant in extended trading. Office-furniture maker Herman Miller (MLHR) beat net-income forecasts but missed guidance calls, and payroll service Paychex (PAYX) beat top-line estimates by a penny.

Meanwhile, Facebook (FB) shares were falling in premarket trading after the social network said it will be offering 70 million additional shares of stock, more than half of them coming from founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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