(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/nex49s) U.S. stock index futures ticked up in low volume on Thursday ahead of data on the labor market and economic growth, with the S&P 500 poised to challenge its record high after falling a couple of points the previous session. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.10 percent at 16,644, S&P 500 futures were up 0.07 percent at 1,910.5 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.07 percent at 3,718.5.
** ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CO, Wednesday close $35.12, +6.92 pct premarket
The teen apparel retailer’s quarterly sales fell less than expected for the first time in six quarters, helped by improvements in its women’s clothing business and its namesake brand.
** SANDERSON FARMS INC, Wednesday close $87.66, +3.81 pct premarket
The third-largest U.S. poultry producer reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by a rise in demand for its products and lower grain costs.
** PALO ALTO NETWORKS INC, Wednesday close $69.51, +13.02 pct premarket
** JUNIPER NETWORKS INC, Wednesday close $25.23, +1.2 pct after market
Cyber security software maker Palo Alto Networks reported a better-than-expected 49 percent jump in quarterly revenue as it added more customers, and said it settled patent litigation with network gear maker Juniper Networks.
** INTERCEPT PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Wednesday close $234.03, +6.39 pct premarket
The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track status to its experimental drug to treat primary biliary cirrhosis, a disease that damages the bile ducts in the liver. Fast-track status is granted by the FDA to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition and fill an unmet medical need.
Intercept said it expects to complete its marketing approval application for the drug, obeticholic acid, in the first half of 2015.
** FABRINET, Wednesday close $19.57, -7.26 pct premarket
The optical packaging provider reported a secondary offering of 3.2 million shares by a selling stockholder.
** BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON HOLDING CORP, Wednesday close $23.63, -3.09 pct premarket
The U.S. technology consulting firm announced the sale of 10 million shares by an affiliate of the Carlyle Group. On completion of the offering, Carlyle will own about 45.8 percent of Class A common stock of Booz Allen.
** AMSURG CORP, Wednesday close $42.8, +5.14 pct premarket
The ambulatory surgery center operator said it would buy Sheridan Healthcare Inc from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC for about $2.35 billion in cash and stock to enter the outsourced physician services market.
** APPLE INC, Wednesday close $624.01, +0.38 pct premarket
Apple’s newest high-profile hire isn’t sure he has a job title and won’t commit to working full-time at its home base, but the iPhone maker is banking on Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine to steer it through a changing music business.
Apple said it will buy Beats for about $3 billion.
** BOEING CO, Wednesday close $134.33, +0.00 pct premarket
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday approved extended operations for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, a move that will allow a wider range of routes and that marks a vote of confidence in the high-tech jet at a time of renewed scrutiny.
** GENERAL ELECTRIC CO, Wednesday close $26.66, +0.11 pct premarket
The U.S. conglomerate strengthened its position in the battle for the power arm of French group Alstom on Wednesday with a pledge to create new jobs in France and recognition from Paris that it had made a more acceptable offer.
** NOVARTIS AG, Wednesday close $89.89
** PFIZER INC, Wednesday close $29.61, +0.30 pct premarket
Italy said on Wednesday it was seeking more than a billion euros in damages from multinational drug companies following a ruling by the country’s antitrust authority that their policies had been detrimental to Italy’s national health service. The health ministry said in a statement it was requesting a total 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) from Novartis and Roche for the damages incurred in 2012-2014, and was requesting 14 million euros from Pfizer.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, Wednesday close $34.59, +0.43 pct premarket
A suspended General Motors engineer who worked on the defective ignition switch at the heart of a massive recall told congressional investigators that he had forgotten ordering a change to the switch, when he testified in a deposition last year, the New York Times reported.
** MASTERCARD INC, Wednesday close $76.93, +0.01 pct premarket
The world’s second-largest debit and credit card company said it was extending its zero-liability policy for cardholders in the United States to include all PIN-based and ATM transactions.
** AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC, Wednesday close $53.48
A New York state judge has rejected a request by Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former CEO of the insurance company, to dismiss a long-running civil lawsuit by the state’s attorney general.
Separately, Deutsche Bank raised its target price on the insurer’s stock to $58 from $55, citing the company’s investments in publicly-traded entities and an expected share repurchase plan.
** RENESOLA LTD, Wednesday close $2.7, -10.37 pct premarket
The Chinese solar products maker reported a smaller quarterly loss as it shipped more solar modules at better prices, but said it expects second-quarter solar module shipments in the range of 480-500 MW, down from 521.1 MW a year earlier.
Total solar wafer and module shipments rose 7.25 percent to 710.1 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter ended March 31 on high demand in Japan. Net loss narrowed to $14.6 million, or 14 cents per American depositary share (ADS) from $39 million, or 45 cents per ADS, a year earlier. Revenue rose 46 percent to $415 million.
** COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP, Wednesday close $114.24, +0.31 pct premarket
The warehouse club operator reported third-quarter results below analysts’ estimates hurt by an increase in merchandise costs and other expenses.
** TARGET CORP, Wednesday close $55.34, -0.04 pct premarket
Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that the American retailer’s shareholders vote against seven of the company’s 10 directors, saying the board failed to manage risks that led to a massive data breach.
** GOOGLE INC, Wednesday close $570.45, +0.36 pct premarket
The search giant revealed the gender and racial makeup of its 50,000-strong workforce on Wednesday, disclosing a significantly below-average proportion of minorities and women employees that it said was “miles from where we want to be.”
** INFOSYS LTD, Wednesday close $51.16, -1.45 pct premarket
India’s second largest IT services exporter is under pressure to bring in a new chief executive soon to check an exodus of junior staff and reassure investors after a slew of departures at the top.
** TILLY’S INC, $10.58, -29.21 pct premarket
The teen apparel retailer forecast current-quarter earnings below analysts’ estimates on Wednesday due to weak traffic trends and heavy discounting.
** POPEYES LOUISIANA KITCHEN INC, $38.07, +2.8 pct after market
The restaurant operator on Wednesday reported first-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by a 4.5 percent rise in global same-store sales.
** REXNORD CORP, Wednesday close $26.18, -3.32 pct premarket
The maker of gear drives and gear sets for industries priced a public offering of 15 million shares at $25.50 each, a discount of 2.6 percent to its stock’s Wednesday close.
** PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC COMPANY, Wednesday close $45.3, -1.3 pct after market
Brokerage Moody’s Investor Service said it expects to downgrade the long-term ratings of the utility company’s Series 2009A and Series 2009B bonds to Aa3 from A3 in its detailed rating next week.
** HARMONY GOLD MINING CO, Wednesday close $2.61, -0.77 pct premarket
HSBC analysts upgraded the South African gold producer’s stock to “neutral” from “underweight” based on valuation and said they expect the company to benefit from its assets in the Wafi-Golpu project, Papua New Guinea.
** BARRICK GOLD CORP, Wednesday close $15.69, -0.57 pct premarket
Canadian miner Barrick Gold has come to an initial agreement with indigenous people in Chile who have opposed its stalled Pascua-Lama mine, taking a first step on what my be a long road to reactivating the project.
SPLUNK INC, Wednesday close $48.88, +2.80 pct premarket
The data analytics software maker will forecast first-quarter results after market close today. The company had forecast first-quarter adjusted margins to shrink 8 to 10 percent as it invests in product development and hires more sales people. However, analysts expect revenue to beat expectations helped by strong growth in licensing revenue as corporate and government clients spend more on indexing and analyzing data.
** AVAGO TECHNOLOGIES LTD, Wednesday close $70.1, +1.11 pct premarket
The chipmaker is likely to report second-quarter results below analysts’ average estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data. The company had warned of lower revenue last quarter, saying it lost revenue from a smartphone customer. Analysts had speculated that the customer to be Apple Inc.
** TATA MOTORS LTD, Wednesday close $38.72, -0.96 pct premarket
India’s biggest automaker by revenue is expected to report an 18 percent rise in net profit, according to analyst estimates, helped by strong sales of its Jaguar and Land Rover cars in China and Asia-Pacific. High car ownership costs in a sluggish economy and the absence of new product launches has hit Tata’s sales in its home market, increasing the automaker’s dependence on its U.K. unit, Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, to prop up profits. The company expects to launch two new models this fiscal year for its domestic market and is also expected to start its new manufacturing facility in China. (Compiled by Ankit Ajmera in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)