U.S. stocks were poised for a lackluster open Thursday, after S&P downgraded Japan's credit rating, and as investors awaited reports on jobless claims and home sales.
Stocks held their gains Wednesday, after the Federal Reserve kept key interest rates steady and left its bond-buying plan in place. The Dow finished at its highest level since the summer of 2008, after rising above the 12,000 mark during the session.
Early Thursday, Standard & Poor's downgraded Japan's sovereign credit rating to AA- from AA
, amid concerns of mounting debt.
After the market open, a report on pending home sales is expected to show a 0.5% drop in November, after registering a 3.5% increase the previous month.
Companies: Before the opening bell, Nokia
(NOK) reported a quarterly operating profit that fell 23% from a year ago and offered a disappointing outlook for the beginning of the year. Shares of the cellphone maker slumped nearly 7% in pre-market trading.Procter & Gamble
(PG) also logged a lower quarterly profit, though its earnings results slightly beat expectations. Shares of the company edged modestly lower ahead of the market open.AT&T
(T)'s earnings beat forecasts by a penny, and shares of the company jumped 2.6% following the report. Caterpillar
(CAT) said profit quadrupled in the fourth quarter and logged a 62% surge in revenue that widely beat expectations, sending shares of the company 2% higher.
Shares of Netflix
(NFLX) surged more than 12% as investors focused on the fact that the movie distributor's subsribership topped a record 20 million. After the closing bell Wednesday, Netflix reported better-than-expected earnings but sales came in slightly below forecasts.
Tech giants Microsoft
(MSFT) and Amazon
(AMZN) will release their quarterly earnings after the bell.
Oil for March delivery was down 54 cents to $86.79 a barrel.
Gold futures for February delivery rose 70 cents to $1,333.70 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was flat, with a yield of 3.43%.