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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Climb on Retail Sales, Jobless Reports

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock futures advanced, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index less than 1 percent from a record, as data showed retail sales rose in February and jobless claims unexpectedly fell in the latest week.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. jumped 6.6 percent as the seller of cookware and home furnishings predicted sales this year will increase more than analysts project. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. rallied 11 percent after boosting its annual forecast.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring this month added 0.2 percent to 1,872.1 at 8:36 a.m. in New York. The equity benchmark index is 0.5 percent from a record reached on March 7. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,373 today.

The 0.3 percent advance in retail sales followed a 0.6 percent drop in January that was larger than initially reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.2 percent advance.

Americans ventured out to shop even as colder-than-normal temperatures and severe snowstorms blanketed parts of the U.S., showing the economic expansion is regaining momentum.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level since the end of November, a sign of further improvement in the labor market.

Jobless claims dropped by 9,000 to 315,000 in the week ended March 8, a Labor Department report showed. The median forecast of 53 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a rise to 330,000.

Fed Stimulus

The S&P 500 has gained 1.1 percent this year, reaching a record close on March 7, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy was strong enough to withstand measured reductions to the central bank’s monthly bond purchases. Three rounds of Fed stimulus have helped push the S&P 500 up 176 percent from a 12-year low, as U.S. equities begin the sixth year of a bull market that started March 9, 2009.

The Federal Open Market Committee, which meets March 18-19, has cut monthly bond buying to $65 billion from $85 billion in December. Policy makers have indicated they plan to taper by $10 billion at each meeting absent a weakening in the economy.

The Fed is trying to determine how much of recent economic cooling has been due to weather. The government’s monthly jobs report last week showed U.S. employers added more workers than estimated in February.


Williams-Sonoma jumped 6.6 percent to $62.85. The company forecast same-store sales growth of 5 percent to 7 percent this year, compared with the 3.7 percent average analyst projection. Revenue will reach $4.63 billion to $4.71 billion, Williams- Sonoma predicted. Analysts had estimated a number at the low end of that range, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Krispy Kreme rallied 11 percent to $22 after forecasting adjusted earnings-per-share of 73 cents to 79 cents in its fiscal 2015 year. The doughnut retailer had projected profit would not exceed 76 cents per share.

Activision Blizzard Inc. increased 5.2 percent to $21.68 after Bank of America Corp. raised its rating on the largest U.S. video-game publisher to buy from neutral. The brokerage predicted new releases this year, including expansion packs for its “Diablo 3,” “Destiny” and “World of Warcraft” games, could help sales reach $4.74 billion in 2014. Activision last month forecast adjusted sales of $4.6 billion.

InterMune Inc. slipped 3.5 percent to $32.30 Inc. after it announced the sale of 7.5 million new shares. The biotechnology company, which has rallied 127 percent this year, said it is selling the shares to help fund the potential introduction of its Esbriet lung-disease treatment in the U.S. and further commercialization in Europe.

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