Reuters: Wall St. Set to Down Ahead of Yellen Comments

Thursday 11.12.15 9:09am EST

Wall Street was set to open flat on Thursday after data showed weekly U.S. jobless claims held steady at levels consistent with sustained labor market strength that could encourage the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.

U.S. jobless claims benefits were unchanged at 276,000 last week, compared with the 270,000 expected, data showed.

The encouraging data comes ahead of scheduled speeches by several Fed policymakers, including Chair Janet Yellen at 9:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT), New York Fed President William Dudley and Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer.

Investors will study their remarks to gauge if the central bank will raise interest rates in December, as is widely expected.

The Fed has maintained that it is likely to pull the trigger next month if data supports its view that the economy was strong enough to withstand higher rates.

In contrast, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinted on Thursday that the bank could extend stimulus programs at its policy meeting next month as inflation dynamics had somewhat weakened.

At 8:36 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 6.75 points, or 0.33 percent, with 158,238 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 14.75 points, or 0.32 percent, on volume of 25,539 contracts. Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were down 74 points, or 0.42 percent, with 23,461 contracts changing hands.

“Investors are pausing to digest the very strong six-week rally we had in October,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

“And so far, this appears to be another healthy and shallow pullback in both size and scope,” he said.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday, weighed down by a slide in energy stocks and brick-and-mortar retailers after Macy’s (M.N) weak results and forecast.

But retailers are set to get a boost on Thursday after Kohl’s (KSS.N) reported better-than-expected quarterly net sales.

Kohl’s shares were up 7.8 percent at $46.52 premarket, while J.C. Penney (JCP.N) and Nordstrom (JWN.N) were up about 1.5 percent.

Advanced Auto Parts (AAP.N) dropped nearly 11 percent to $174.59 after it reported quarterly profit below estimates.

Viacom (VIAB.O) was down 5.8 percent at $46.50 after its quarterly profit and revenue missed estimates.

PayPal’s shares (PYPL.O) slid 1.4 percent to $35.81 after the Wall Street Journal reported Apple (AAPL.O) was in talks with U.S. banks to develop a rival payment service.

Liberty Media (LMCA.O) rose 4.2 percent to $42.75 on plans to reclassify its shares into three tracking stocks.

Nordstrom (JWN.N) and Cisco (CSCO.O) are slated to report results after the close.
Read more at Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/12/us-markets-stocks-idUSKCN0T11GH20151112#XKRIsrphsCkRsok5.99

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