Futures mixed as retailers are under pressure

AP News
Posted: Dec 05, 2013 9:19 AM
Futures mixed as retailers are under pressure

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures wavered Thursday after the U.S. reported data on jobs and economic growth that were much better than most economists had been projecting.

Weighing on markets, however, were telltale signs that illustrated just how hesitant Americans have become in spending money.

Dow Jones industrial futures fell 25 points to 15,861. S&P futures lost 1.9 points to 1,789.90. Nasdaq futures rose 3.75 points to 3,486.25.

The U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate since early 2012 from July through September, the Commerce Department reported in the second of three published estimates. But consumer spending, the gas pedal of the American economy, was near four year lows.

Economic growth was driven largely by a huge buildup in business stockpiles.

The same story is playing out in sales numbers released by retailers Thursday.

Sales at Costco stores that have been open at least a year came in more than a full percent below what Wall Street had expected and company shares slid in premarket trading.

Big store chains like Aeropostale are reporting losses for the quarter as they discount aggressively. L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and other retailers, said Thursday that comparable store sales dropped 5 percent last month.

Shares of teen retailer The Wet Seal plunged 17 percent before the opening bell. Its loss for the third quarter was expected, but a weak outlook for the final quarter of the year sent investors scurrying.

Still, the weekly jobs report from the Labor Department was very strong.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week plunged by 23,000 to 298,000, nearly a six-year low.

The less volatile four-week moving average declined 10,750 to 322,250.

On Friday, the U.S. releases the more pivotal jobs report for all of November and economists are predicting more gains.

That would follow data released Wednesday by the payroll processor ADP, which aid that private companies and businesses added 215,000 jobs last month.

The Commerce Department releases its report on factory orders at 10 a.m. Eastern time.