March 14 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Thursday: (For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for The Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/faq23t)
S&P 500 index futures added slightly to gains on Thursday after data showed the number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits fell unexpectedly last week.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.4 points while Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 20 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.5 points.
** SINOVAC BIOTECH LTD, Wednesday close $3.19, up 18 pct premarket
The China-based company said a late-stage trial of its experimental vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease met the main study goal of preventing the infection in infants between the ages of 6 and 35 months.
** EBIX INC, Wednesday close $15.54, up 14 pct premarket
The insurance software company reported a 23 percent rise in fourth-quarter sales as revenue from its exchanges business rose.
** CHINDEX INTERNATIONAL INC, Wednesday close $11.02, up 11 pct premarket
The company reported a higher quarterly profit, helped by increased contributions from its hospital in Beijing.
** TOWER GROUP INTERNATIONAL LTD Wednesday close $19.75, down 11 pct premarket
Tower Group's merger with Canopius Bermuda closed on Wednesday.
Brokerage Keefe, Bruyette and Woods also cut its price target on the insurer's stock to $18 from $21 and said it was still cautious about the company's reserves.
** AMEREN CORP, Wednesday close $34, up 5 pct premarket
The utility company said it would sell Ameren Energy Resources Co, its merchant generation business, to Dynegy Inc , and will focus on its rate-regulated electric, natural gas and transmission operations.
Benefits from the divestiture for Ameren are estimated to be about $900 million, the company said in a statement.
** J.C. PENNEY CO INC, Wednesday close $15.65, up 3.5 pct premarket
The company's Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah on Wednesday insisted that neither he nor Chief Executive Ron Johnson has any plans to resign despite growing pressure on the company over its turnaround plans.
** KIRKLAND'S INC, Wednesday close $11.50, down 2 pct premarket
The home decor and gifts retailer forecast lower-than-expected results for the first quarter and said Chief Executive Robert Alderson would retire in February next year.
** BLACKBERRY, Wednesday close $15.65, up 2 pct premarket
The company's volatile shares surged on Wednesday after the smartphone maker said one of its established partners had placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments set to begin immediately.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it is the largest ever single purchase order in its history, a big fillip for the company.
** TOWER GROUP INTERNATIONAL LTD Wednesday close $19.75, down 10 pct premarket
Tower Group's merger with Canopius Bermuda closed on Wednesday.
Brokerage Keefe, Bruyette and Woods cut its price target on the insurer's stock to $18 from $21 and said it was still cautious about the company's reserves.
** AMAZON.COM INC, Wednesday close $275.10, down 1.5 pct premarket
JP Morgan cut its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "overweight", saying an analysis of the world's biggest Internet retailer's key business lines suggests a slower growth in gross profit in 2013. It slashed its price target on the stock by $33 to $300.
"The key drivers of gross profit deceleration are: moderating growth in third-party sales from 51 percent in 2012 to 37 percent in 2013; 2) first-party gross profit margin potentially contracting due to international expansion and rebounding eReader/Tablet sales; and 3) tougher comps," analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in a note.
Amazon said on Wednesday it cut the price of its largest Kindle Fire tablet.
** EBAY INC, Wednesday close $50.98, up 1.5 pct premarket
Evercore Partners raised its rating on the e-commerce company's stock to "overweight" from "equal weight" following a sell off of its shares. Ebay's stock fell on Wednesday after MasterCard Inc spoke about potential fee increases to EBay's PayPal payments business. EBay had disclosed this in its annual report in February.
"We estimate the impact to be less than 50 basis points of PayPal's margin, even assuming a full year's worth of pro-forma impact at a 50 percent increase (by MasterCard)," Evercore analysts said.
** MEN'S WEARHOUSE INC, Wednesday close $29.07, up 13 pct after market
The clothing retailer said it would explore strategic options for its K&G brand and buy back an additional $155 million of its stock.
Men's Wearhouse also posted a smaller quarterly net loss of $3.4 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with $3.8 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.
** CHRISTOPHER & BANKS CORP, Wednesday close $6.57, up 6 pct after market
The women's apparel retailer reported a 9 percent increase in quarterly sales. Same-store sales rose 18.5 percent in the quarter ended Feb. 2.
** SIGMA DESIGNS INC, Wednesday close $4.42, up 6 pct after market
The company, which makes chips for set-top boxes, reported a bigger-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter, but said it believed it "would experience profitability starting in the first quarter".
** E*TRADE FINANCIAL CORP, Wednesday close $11.82, down 5 pct after market
Citadel LLC, the largest investor in E*Trade, is selling its entire stake in the discount brokerage and bank company, ending a contentious and profitable five-year relationship.
E*Trade said on Wednesday that Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund that bailed it out in November 2007, is selling 27.4 million shares, its entire 9.6 percent stake, on or about March 19 to Citigroup Inc.
** SUCAMPO PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Wednesday close $4.95, up 5 pct after market
The company reported a fourth-quarter profit which beat analysts' estimates, helped by a $15 million milestone payment from Abbott Laboratories related to the initial sale of its constipation drug Amitiza in Japan.
** SS&C TECHNOLOGIES HOLDINGS INC, Wednesday close $27.74, down 4.5 pct after market
The financial software provider said on Wednesday Chief Executive William Stone and The Carlyle Group are selling 7.8 million of its shares.
** VERA BRADLEY INC, Wednesday close $24.89, down 4 pct after market
The handbag and accessories retailer forecast first-quarter results below Wall Street estimates, as its distribution partners pull back orders post the holiday season. [ID: nGNX8sBpZC]
Brokerages Sterne Agee & Leach and Keybanc Capital Markets cut their ratings on the stock.
** SANDRIDGE ENERGY INC, Wednesday close $5.85
The company and activist hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital struck a deal on Wednesday that could lead to the removal of the oil and gas company's chief executive, marking the second time in two months that allegations of self-dealing and poor performance have shaken a U.S. energy firm.
** CONSOL ENERGY INC, Wednesday close $32.44
The coal and gas producer reported an incident of fire at one of its mines in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Operations in the mine, which produces about 400,000 tons of coal per month, have been stalled. The company said it is working with federal authorities to extinguish the fire. (Compiled by Pallavi Ail in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)