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U.S. stocks were poised for a flat open Thursday, despite a better-than-expected report on initial jobless claims, as investors await readings on housing and manufacturing.
On Wednesday, stocks ended lower, as weak results from tech shares took a drubbing and Goldman Sachs' disappointing results pressured financial issues. Shares of Goldman (GS), Bank of America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Barclays (BCS) fell more than 3%.
Economy: The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment insurance eased by 37,000 to 404,000 last week. The number was lower than forecast. Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com were expecting 425,000 jobless claims in the latest week.
After the opening bell, the National Association of Realtors will release its monthly report on existing home sales. Analysts polled by Briefing.com expect sales rose to an annual rate of 4.8 million in December, from 4.68 million the previous month.
The index of Leading Economic Indicators from the Conference Board is expected to have risen 0.6% in December after a 1.1% increase the previous month.
After the market opens, the Philadelphia Fed index, a regional reading on manufacturing, is expected to show that activity in that sector slowed in January.
Companies: Morgan Stanley (MS) posted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.1 billion, or 43 cents a share. Revenue rose 14% from a year earlier to $7.8 billion. Analysts expected the investment bank to report earnings per share of 35 cents on revenue of $7.35 billion. Shares of Morgan Stanley jumped 2% following the report.
After the market closed Wednesday, EBay (EBAY) said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 5% over the prior year to $2.5 billion. Net income rose to 42 cents a share, or $559.2 million. Shares of the retailer rose 3% in pre-market trading.
Google (GOOG) is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings results after the close of trading Thursday.
China's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, expanded at an annual rate of 9.8% in the fourth quarter of 2010. The rate was faster than the 9.6% rate reported in the prior quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Meanwhile, inflation cooled -- with the nation's consumer price index rising 4.6% last month, compared to 5.1% in November.
China's rapid growth has sparked fears that its economy may overheat, and many economists are expecting China to further tighten its monetary policy and hike interest rates.
Oil for March delivery slipped 76 cents to $91.05 a barrel.
Gold futures for February delivery fell $12.60 to $1,357.60 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 3.40% from 3.34% late Wednesday.
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