* Twitter slumps after results
* Green Mountain surges on deal with Coca-Cola
* Initial claims decline more than expected
* Retailers report monthly sales
* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 4.5 pts, Nasdaq 12.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 6 U.S. stocks were set for a
slightly higher open on Thursday, as a better-than-expected
report on weekly initial jobless claims boosted confidence the
economy was improving, although caution remained ahead of
Friday's employment report.
* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
declined 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 331,000, versus
expectations of 335,000 claims. The prior week was revised to
show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported
while the four-week moving average nudged up 250 to 334,000.
* As the U.S. Federal Reserve continues efforts to wind down
its stimulus, investors have turned their focus to fundamentals
such as corporate earnings and economic data.
* However, many participants have wondered if recent soft
data truly reflects the economy or is the result of a harsh
winter, and are looking to Friday's payrolls report for a
clearer indication of the economy's health after last month's
* Twitter Inc shares tumbled 22.4 percent to $51.20
in premarket trade. After the close on Wednesday, the company
reported its slowest pace of user growth in recent company
history, dimming hopes that the social media phenomenon could
sustain its torrid pace of expansion.
* Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc surged 40.6
percent to $113.70 before the opening bell. Coca-Cola Co
had bought a 10 percent stake in it for $1.25 billion and would
help launch Green Mountain's new cold drink machine planned for
release as soon as October. Coke shares gained 1.7 percent to
$38.23 while home beverage device maker SodaStream International
reversed course after an earlier decline and rose 10.5
percent to $39.56 in premarket trading.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 4.5 points and were
slightly above 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
gained 42 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added
* Other economic data showed the U.S. trade deficit widened
more than expected in December as exports fell, which could see
the advance fourth-quarter growth estimate trimmed.
Nonfarm productivity rose more than expected in the fourth
quarter, but weak unit labor costs pointed to subdued wage
* The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on
Thursday, holding off policy action while it waits for new
economic forecasts next month to assess the deflation threat
facing the euro zone.
* Investors will eye monthly sales results from retailers
for signs of strength in consumer spending. Costco Wholesale
Corp's January same-store sales beat market
expectations, even as the warehouse club retailer recorded weak
fuel prices and lower international sales in dollar terms.
* General Motors lost 4 percent to $33.82 before the
opening bell after the automaker posted weaker-than-expected
fourth-quarter profit on Thursday as results in North America,
Asia and South America disappointed.
* Dunkin' Brands Group Inc reported a 23 percent
rise in quarterly profit, driven by higher growth in sales at
its Dunkin' Donuts coffee and sandwich outlets. The company also
boosted its quarterly dividend and announced a new $125 million
share buyback plan. Its shares rose 2.1 percent to $48.31 in
* Aetna Inc, the third-largest U.S. health insurer,
on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit rose due to the
acquisition of Coventry Healthcare, and it forecast an increase
in medical customers in its private Medicare business in 2014.