US STOCKS-Futures flat as June retail sales eyed

* Costco June same store sales up 4 pct

* Weekly jobless claims, June retail sales on tap

* Futures down: Dow 8 pts, S&P 500 1.6 pts, Nasdaq 2.5 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

(Updates market activity)

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK, July 8 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Thursday after posting their biggest one-day
gains in about six weeks and as investors readied for data on
jobless claims and retail sales for clues about the direction
of the economy.

The S&P 500 index rose more than 3 percent on Wednesday as
a strong outlook from State Street Corp (STT.N: ) lifted optimism
ahead of the upcoming earnings season. A strong June sales
tally from retailers could bolster the gains.

Top U.S. warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp’s
(COST.O: ) June same-store sales rose 4 percent but just missed
Wall Street’s expectations because of a holiday shift in the
period. For details, see [ID:nSGE66707F]

“All bets are off until we start seeing how June
(comparable) store sales came in,” said Craig Peckham, equity
trading strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York. “There is a
lot of concern about just how well the U.S. consumer held up.”

Target Corp (TGT.N: ), Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N: ) and JC Penney Co
(JCP.N: ) are due to report monthly sales on Thursday, and an
overall rise in June would mark the 10th consecutive month of
rising sales after a year of declines during the recession.

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) fell 1.6 points but 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 (DJc1: )
fell 8 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) lost 2.5 points.

The S&P 500 has fallen nearly 13 percent from a peak in
April, with investors concerned about a slowdown in economic
growth in the United States, Europe and China.

Striking an optimistic note on the economy, the
International Monetary Fund upgraded its 2010 global growth
forecast, citing robust expansion in Asia and renewed U.S.
private demand, but warned the euro area’s debt crisis posed a
big risk to recovery. [ID:nTOE666034]

U.S. economic data on Thursday includes new jobless claims,
due at 8.30 a.m. (1230 GMT), which are expected to have slipped
to 460,000 in the latest week. In the previous period, they
rose to 472,000 from 457,000, undermining confidence in the
labor market.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares was
up 0.6 percent, extending a rally into a third day, with banks
among major gainers. Japan’s Nikkei average closed up 2.8
percent in a follow-through to U.S. gains on Wednesday.

Details of stress tests for Europe’s banks have started to
emerge, lifting confidence in the battered sector. A news
conference at the European Central Bank on Thursday is expected
to focus on the tests, giving investors more clarity.

Crude prices rose to $74.56 a barrel, reinforcing overnight
gains after a report showed U.S. crude inventories plunged last
week. [ID:nLDE6670GD]
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

US STOCKS-Futures flat as June retail sales eyed