U.S. stocks were set for a mixed open on Thursday, with hopes of a trade negotiation between the United States and China being offset by mixed results from retailers and a slide in Facebook Inc. Shares in Walmart Inc, the world’s largest retailer, rose 0.3 percent in premarket trading after the company beat quarterly comparable sales estimates. The results come during a big week for retail earnings, with department store operator Macy’s Inc raising its annual earnings forecast on Wednesday, signaling a strong holiday shopping season.
Shares in rival J.C. Penney Co Inc slumped 12.3 percent after quarterly comparable-store sales fell short of analysts’ estimates. U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in October as sales of motor vehicles and building materials surged. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.8 percent last month, above the expected 0.5 percent rise, but September numbers were revised down. “Any strong number would imply that consumers are going to continue to spend,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York. “We’re in an oversold situation, but the market is so nervous, it is subject to headlines.”
U.S. stocks have got off to a shaky start this month after a sharp selloff in October as investors weigh the prospect of rising interest rates, slowing global economy and trade tensions. The S&P 500 posted its fifth straight day of declines on Wednesday, as financial stocks were hit by fears of tighter regulations once the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. Following a drop in the previous session, JPMorgan Chase & Co rose 1.1 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc added a $4.02 billion stake in the lender.
The muted moves in U.S. equity futures came after European markets were hammered as British Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest. Just over 12 hours after May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.
At 8:58 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 1 point. S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.5 points, or 0.09 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.11 percent.
Oil prices stabilized, reversing earlier declines, but market sentiment remained cautious over concerns that a supply glut may emerge amid a glum economic outlook.
Shares in Cisco Systems Inc rose 4.3 percent after the network gear maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results, benefiting from demand for its routers and switches. Facebook Inc dropped 1.9 percent. Hedge funds, Tiger Global Management, Appaloosa LP and Soros Fund Management dissolved their stakes in the social media giant on Wednesday.