* Initial claims rise, but still near 7-yr low
* Best Buy rebounds from early declines after results
* Futures up: Dow 11 pts, S&P 0.75 pt, Nasdaq 3.25 pts
(Adds initial jobless claims data, updates prices)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, May 22 U.S. stocks were set to open
little changed on Thursday, in the wake of data showing initial
jobless claims rose in the latest week but were still near
pre-recession levels, and ahead of data on the housing market.
* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits were up 28,000 at 326,000 in the week ended May 17,
above the 310,000 forecast but close to a seven-year low,
pointing to ongoing healing in the labor market.
* Existing home sales data for April is due later at 10:00
a.m. (1400 GMT), and will be monitored for signs of
stabilization in the housing arena. Forecasts are for a rise of
2.2 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million, after hitting a
1-1/2 year low in March.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.75 point and were
roughly even with 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 e-mini
futures gained 11 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures
added 3.25 points.
* Best Buy Co rebounded from early declines in
premarket trading to rise 1.3 percent to $25.69. The electronics
retailer reported first-quarter earnings that topped
expectations, though revenue fell short of forecasts as domestic
comparable store sales fell 1.3 percent.
* Sears Holdings Corp posted a bigger loss for the
first quarter as the struggling retailer failed to arrest a fall
in sales despite offering heavy discounts to woo shoppers. Its
shares lost 1.5 percent to $36 before the opening bell.
* Reynolds American Inc is in active discussions to
buy Lorillard Inc in a complicated, three-way transaction
that could see British American Tobacco PLC take a
major role to back a potential merger, according to people
familiar with the matter.
* Refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp said it would buy
oil and natural gas producer Hess Corp's retail business
for about $2.87 billion. Shares of Hess gained 1.9 percent to
$91 in premarket trading.
* U.S. stocks rebounded Wednesday from a selloff a day
earlier, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average scoring its
biggest gain in a month, after minutes of the Federal Reserve's
last meeting showed central bankers had discussed the eventual
tightening of monetary policy but didn't decide which tools to
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)