Global markets were under pressure Thursday morning as tensions increased between Russia and Ukraine, and as Wall Street absorbed fresh economic data.
U.S. futures have gained some strength while European markets remained in the red as the Ukraine power struggle intensified. Asian markets finished mixed as Chinese exchanges rebounded from monetary tightening by its central bank, while Japan's Nikkei 225 faltered overnight.
Stateside, durable-goods orders fell by 1% in January after an upwardly revised 5.3% dip in December. Analysts were looking for a 1.7% monthly decline.
Jobless claims jumped by 14,000 to 348,000 last week from 334,000 in the previous week. Economists were calling for 335,000 new claims. At 11 a.m. ET, look for the Kansas City Federal Reserve's manufacturing index.
Meanwhile, Wall Street will be listening carefully when Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m. ET. Also look for appearances by Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher in Germany and by the Atlanta Fed's Dennis Lockhart and the Kansas City Fed's Esther George in Atlanta.
One stock to watch today is J.C. Penney (JCP), which jumped 20% in premarket trading after the company's report late Wednesday, which showed a narrower fourth-quarter loss than expected.
Among early results Thursday, struggling electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) far surpassed estimates, posting net income of $1.24 per share in the fourth quarter vs. calls for a profit of $1.01 per share. Sales were slightly below views. Cost-cutting measures offset the effect of deep discounts offered in the holiday-shopping season.
Elsewhere, hotelier Hilton (HLT) missed earnings estimates by a nickel per share. Department store Kohl's (KSS) beat EPS estimates and raised its dividend. Fast-food chain Wendy's (WEN) missed sales estimates, but EPS came in $0.02 ahead of forecasts. Like J.C. Penney, Sears Holdings (SHLD) saw a narrower-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter.
Action Alerts PLUS holding Linn Energy (LINE) reports later in the day, as do Deckers Outdoor (DECK), Gap (GPS), KBR (KBR), Monster Beverage (MNST) and Ross Stores (ROST).
Late Wednesday, Chinese search giant Baidu (BIDU) beat sales and profit expectation; video service TiVo (TIVO) offered mixed results, beating sales but falling short on profit views; and oil-services company Transocean (RIG) beat bottom-line views by a penny a share.
Meanwhile, the fallout for charitable-trust component GM (GM) continues: The company's massive vehicle recall to address faulty ignition switches has prompted an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.