* Investors look to Yellen for insight into weather impact
* Jobless claims unexpectedly up, durable goods top
* Retailers look to rise after J.C. Penny, Best Buy results
* Futures: Dow up 2 pts, S&P up 0.1 pt, Nasdaq down 1.5 pt
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 27 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a slightly lower open on Thursday, with a
better-than-expected read on durable goods helping to offset
geopolitical uncertainty in Ukraine.
* Market moves may be slight ahead of comments from Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who will address the Senate Banking
Committee in a semiannual testimony about monetary policy at
10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT)
* Geopolitical tensions mounted after armed men seized the
regional government headquarters and parliament in Ukraine's
Crimea and raised the Russian flag. Ukraine's parliament
appointed former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk to be prime
minister, while ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich said he was
still president in a statement sent to Russian news agencies
from an unknown location.
* In the latest economic data, orders for durable goods fell
1 percent in January, a drop that was less than had been
forecast. However, jobless claims unexpectedly rose in the
* Recent data has largely come in under expectations, which
many analysts have chalked up 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.
* Investors are especially looking for Yellen to address the
weather issue in her testimony, which was itself delayed by a
snowstorm. 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.
* 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
* S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 point but remained 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 rose 2
points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 1.5 point.
* In retail news, both J.C. Penney Co Inc and Best
Buy Co Inc jumped in premarket trading after their
results. Penney gained 24 percent to $7.38, while Best Buy rose
7.4 percent to $27.72.
* 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, sending
shares up 7.7 percent to $43.50 before the bell, and Kohl's Corp
said it expected modest sales gains in its new fiscal
year and reported a lower fourth-quarter profit.