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Pre-Market: Qualcomm Wants to Make Chips for Driverless Cars; US Economy Contracts in Q1

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Japanese retail sales fall by their fastest rate in 14 years.

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Stock futures pointed toward a higher open on Thursday morning. Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures rose 0.10% to 16,645. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.09% to 1,910.80. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved higher, rising 0.08% to 3,719.

Stocks

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) CEO Steve Mollenkopf has expressed his desire to provide the chips that power driverless cars. Qualcomm has advantages to becoming a leader in the space. It already dominates the smartphone chip market -- notably, the technology behind computer vision which is necessary for a driverless car. Qualcomm is also developing technology that would connect cars to each other. The comments came a day after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) revealed its driverless electric car. Qualcomm was slightly lower at 0.05% ahead of the opening bell. 

Costco (NASDAQ:COST) reported a higher third-quarter profit while still missing analysts' estimates. Total same-store sales rose 4%, while total earnings rose to $473 million, or $1.07 per share. Total revenue jumped 7% to $25.79 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted earnings of $1.09 per share and revenue of $25.75 billion. The company says it plans to open eight new warehouse stores by the end of the year. Shares of Costco fell 0.74% in pre-market trading.

Eight US states -- California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- have announced a joint initiative to put 3.3 million low- or zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2022. This could mean good news for Elon Musk, who is investing $5 billion in a 10 million-square-foot factory that would make enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars per year. That's considerably higher than Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) 2013 sales (21 times higher, in fact), so servicing a larger market of automakers could be the firm's aim here. Shares of Tesla were down slightly by 0.02% in pre-market trading.

Economy

US GDP fell 1% in the first quarter, revised down from an originally reported 0.1% gain. A harsh winter is being blamed for the contraction in the US economy. Initial jobless claims fell over the past week by 27,000 to 300,000 total claims. The four-week moving average is down to a low of 311,500. After taxes, corporate profits fell from 6% to 5.3% over the past quarter. Outgoing Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and incoming  Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are both speaking this morning. At 9:45 a.m., the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index will deliver insight into American's feelings about the economy. At 10:00 a.m. pending home sales numbers are released. The EIA natural gas inventory will be reported at 10:30 a.m., with the petroleum inventories following at 11:00 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., expect the results from the $29 billion 7-year-note auction. Shortly following the closing bell, the Federal Reserve will release the money supply and its balance sheet. 

Global Markets

Asian stocks moved higher overnight. Singapore Telecommunications, The Singapore Post, and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) were among the notable gainers. Japan reported retail sales in the country plummeted at their fastest rate in 14 years last month following a consumption-tax hike in April. Sales fell 13.7% that month, significantly lower than analysts had projected. In the Philippines, GDP growth fell below 6% for the first time in over two years --  another signal of economic slowdown in the Asia-Pacific region. In Europe, stocks continued to trade near a six-year high, as investors anticipated upcoming US economic data.  

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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