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Pre-Market: Apple, Samsung Attempt to Settle Patent War Out of Court; Jobless Claims Fall


Bed Bath & Beyond shares dropped after the company delivered earnings results yesterday.

Stocks are set to rise today as the US job market showed unexpected growth and major corporations begin to release fourth-quarter earnings.

The CEOs of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) agreed to meet personally with a mediator next month to try to sort out their ongoing global patent fights. If the two giants fail to settle, they will meet in court again over Apple's complaints that Samsung copies its smartphone designs.

This morning saw some action in retail. Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) shares dropped 9.8% after the company delivered earnings results yesterday. The retailer, which is sensitive to swings in the housing market, earned $237.2 million, or $1.12 per share, missing analysts' expectations by $0.03. A year earlier, profit was $1.03 per share. Revenue also rose 6% to $2.87 billion as same-store sales rose 1.3%. Bed Bath & Beyond management also cut its full-year earnings forecast.

Macy's (NYSE:M) shares jumped 6.6% after the company announced that it will eliminate underperforming stores and lay off 2,500 employees. The company also said that same-store sales in November and December of 2013 were 3.6% higher than a year earlier. The cuts are expected to save $100 million a year.

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) could erase some of Wednesday's losses. Yesterday the company reported that it is "pleased with its performance for the holiday period, showing continued progress in its turnaround efforts," but offered no specific sales data. The laconic report raised more questions than it answered, and shares fell 10% yesterday. Shares rose 3.4% this morning after Piper Jaffray upgraded its shares to Overweight from Neutral. The analysts said that investors had overreacted to yesterday's report.

Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) will unofficially kick off earnings season today after the market close. Investors expect earnings of $0.05 per share as revenue declines 8.8% to $5.43 billion.

After a mixed trading day on Wednesday, futures indicate that the major stock market indices are set to open higher. Before the opening bell, future contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) were up 0.31% to 16,380.00. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.27% to 1,837.40, and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.22% to 3,572.75.

Some economic data released today gave the markets an encouraging sign for tomorrow's jobs report. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 330,000 last week from 345,000 in the week before. Economists expected 1,000 more claims. The Challenger job-cut report, which is published by a major outplacement firm, said that mass layoffs fell dramatically in December 2013. Last month, 30,623 workers were fired en masse, down from 45,314 in November.

Kansas City Federal Reserve chief Esther George will deliver a speech in Wisconsin this afternoon. At 8:00 p.m., Narayana Kocherlakota of the Minneapolis Fed will participate in a town hall.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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