* Investors look to Yellen for insight into weather impact
* Weekly jobless claims, Jan durable goods data on tap
* J.C. Penney and Best Buy rally in premarket after results
* Futures down: Dow 48 pts, S&P 5.4 pts, Nasdaq 6.75 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 27 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Thursday, with the S&P 500 poised to recede further from
record levels amid political uncertainty in Ukraine and ahead of
comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
* Investor concerns about geopolitical tensions mounted
after armed men seized the regional government headquarters and
parliament in Ukraine's Crimea and raised the Russian flag.
Kiev's new rulers urged Moscow not to abuse its navy base rights
on the peninsula by moving troops around.
* Yellen will address the Senate Banking Committee in a
semiannual testimony about monetary policy, and investors are
especially looking for insight into how an unexpectedly harsh
winter has impacted economic activity. Yellen's appearance,
originally scheduled for Feb. 13, was postponed because of a
* Recent data has largely come in under expectations, with a
few bright spots, such as January new home sales. Many analysts
have chalked the misses to the impact of weather instead of
worsening fundamentals, a theory that has helped indexes shrug
off the disappointments and send the S&P 500 to a record high
earlier this week.
* There are concerns the data reflects a more bearish
economic picture, and the S&P has struggled to break decisively
above its 2013 year-end closing level of 1,848.36. If Yellen
does not reassure market participants about the state of
economic growth, trading could take a more pronounced turn to
* The market is also looking for confirmation the central
bank will maintain its stimulus-trimming schedule, though no
changes are expected to be announced in the testimony, which
begins at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT)
* S&P 500 futures fell 5.4 points and were below fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 48
points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 6.75 points.
* In retail news, both J.C. Penney Co Inc and Best
Buy Co Inc jumped in premarket trading after their
results. Penney gained 26 percent to $7.45, while Best Buy rose
2.3 percent to $26.41.
* Penney late Wednesday forecast more improvement in its
comparable sales and gross profit margin this fiscal year, while
Best Buy posted adjusted earnings that topped
* Retail stocks have performed well recently,
rising for five straight sessions on the back of some strong
results, including from Home Depot and Macy's Inc.
* Also on Thursday, Sears Holding Corp reported a
quarterly loss that narrowed from the year-ago period and Kohl's
Corp said it expected modest sales gains in its new
fiscal year and reported a lower fourth-quarter profit.
* Ahead of Yellen's testimony, traders will digest data on
both weekly jobless claims and January durable goods. Claims are
seen falling by 1,000 to 335,000 in the latest week, while
orders for durable goods are seen down 1.5 percent. The data is
scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. EST.