(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 rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track to halt a five-session losing streak, ahead of a key monthly payrolls report that may influence expectations for when the Federal Reserve will begin to wind down its stimulus. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.36 percent at 15,874, S&P 500 futures were up 0.44 percent at 1,791.8 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.34 percent at 3,490.75.
** J.C. PENNEY CO INC, Thursday close $8.85, -2.15 pct premarket
The struggling department store chain said it received a letter of inquiry from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking an explanation on the company’s financial position.
** INTEL CORP, Thursday close $24.26, +1.73 pct premarket
Citigroup raised its rating on the chipmaker’s stock to “buy” from “neutral,” according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** BIG LOTS INC, Thursday close $37.13, -9.75 pct premarket
The retailer reported a bigger-than-expected loss for the third quarter, hurt by weak same-store sales in both the United States and Canada.
Big Lots also said it would close its stores in Canada, as it believed that further investment and execution risk required for a turnaround were not in its best interest.
** BANK OF AMERICA CORP, Thursday close $15.43, +0.32 pct premarket
A U.S. judge is considering an alternative that could result in the bank paying much less than the $863.6 million the government is seeking as a penalty for the sale of defective mortgages before the financial crisis.
** AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS INC, Thursday close $16.4, -3.96 pct premarket
The teen apparel retailer forecast current-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates due to heavy discounting in the holidays.
** TWITTER INC, Thursday close $45.62, +0.39 pct premarket
The social media company is tying up with a Singapore-based startup to make its 140-character messaging service available to users in emerging markets who have entry-level mobile phones that cannot access the Internet.
Evercore raised its price target on the company’s stock to $52 from $43.
** INTEROIL CORP, Thursday close $88.63, -21.25 pct premarket
France’s Total has agreed to buy a 61.3 percent stake in InterOil’s Papua New Guinea gas fields for up to $3.6 billion, as part of a plan to build a liquefied natural gas export plant.
** VALE SA, Thursday close $15.1, +0.86 pct premarket
The Brazilian miner said on Thursday that it planned to sell a 15-25 percent stake in its coal operations, including projects and mines in Australia and Mozambique, and has had interest from potential partners including coal buyers.
** FIVE BELOW INC, Thursday close $47.75, -10.12 pct premarket
The value retailer forecast current-quarter results below analysts’ estimates, citing the shorter holiday season and moderation of the rubber band bracelet trend.
** EXXON MOBIL CORP, Thursday close $94.13, +0.24 pct premarket
The company and Statoil have made another big gas discovery off Tanzania and plan a drilling campaign over the next two years, lifting the East African country’s hope of becoming a major gas exporter.
** SEARS HOLDINGS CORP, Thursday close $49.98, +4.04 pct premarket
The struggling U.S. retailer, led by hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, said it would spin off its Lands’ End clothing business. The spinoff will be through a prorata distribution of Lands’ End shares to shareholders, Sears said in a regulatory filing.
** DIAMOND FOODS INC, Thursday close $24.14, -3.00 pct after market
The maker of Emerald Nuts and Kettle Chips reported a first-quarter loss late on Thursday, hurt by a 17 percent fall in sales of nuts and expenses related to a lawsuit.
Diamond, which has been struggling with the fallout of an accounting scandal that derailed its planned $2.35 billion purchase of Pringles, said it incurred $23.5 million in expenses connected to the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
** FINISAR CORP, Thursday close $21.761, +5.92 pct premarket
The maker of fiber optic components used in network communication equipment reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter, helped by strong sales. The company forecast a profit of 43-47 cents per share for the current-quarter and revenue of $290 million-$305 million. Analysts’ were expecting a profit of 38 cents per share on revenue of $290 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
MKM Partners and Janney raised their price targets on the company’s stock to $30 from $27 and $29, respectively. Both have a “buy” rating on the stock.
** GOLAR LNG PARTNERS LP, Thursday close $30.94, -5.62 pct premarket
Norwegian shipping firm Golar LNG Ltd, the owner of Golar LNG Partners, said it would sell its ownership interest in Golar Igloo to the master limited partnership for $310 million.
** PLUG POWER INC, Thursday close $1.81, +12.71 pct premarket
The fuel cell maker’s stock continued to rally after the company said on Wednesday it would turn profitable in 2014, helped by higher sales orders and cost management.
** ZUMIEZ INC, Thursday close $26.24, -5.00 pct after market
Roth Capital Partners and Janney Capital Markets cut their price targets on the sports apparel and equipment retailer’s stock after Zumiez forecast current-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates.
** ULTA BEAUTY, Thursday close $118, -18.20 pct premarket
The beauty products retailer reported lower-than-expected results for the third quarter, hurt by higher promotions and weak sales trends. The company also forecast current-quarter results below analysts’ estimates.
Piper Jaffray & Co downgraded the company’s stock to “neutral” from “overweight,” according to Theflyonthewall.com, while Sterne Agee & Leach cut its price target on the stock to $116 from $130.
** CELGENE CORP, Thursday close $164.51, +0.68 pct after market
An experimental drug from Novartis to treat a type of bone marrow cancer met its primary goal in a late-stage study, the Swiss drugmaker said. German Biotech company MorphoSys and Celgene are also working on treatments for multiple myeloma.
** PACIFIC SUNWEAR OF CALIFORNIA INC, Thursday close $2.76, +9.00 pct after market
The teen sports and fashion apparel retailer said comparable-store sales rose 6 percent in November, helped by higher sales of its cold weather clothing and strong Black Friday sales. The company also reported higher-than-expected revenue for the third quarter on Thursday.
** U.S. SILICA HOLDINGS INC, Thursday close $35.34, -3.00 pct after market
The commercial silica maker said on Thursday that it commenced a secondary public offering of 4.5 million shares of its common stock. The seller of the shares was GGC USS Holdings LLC, a unit of Golden Gate Capital, U.S. Silica said in a statement.
** MITEL NETWORKS CORP, Thursday close $9.02, -5.00 pct after market
The Canadian company, which makes internet-protocol based business telephony and collaboration software, reported a lower-than-expected revenue for the second quarter on Thursday.
** GRANITE CONSTRUCTION INC, Thursday close $30.31, +2.24 pct premarket
Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the building products maker’s stock to “buy” from “neutral,” according to Streetinsider.com.
** VEEVA SYSTEMS INC, Thursday close $40.98, +5.00 pct after market
The company, which provides software to the life sciences industry, reported a 54 percent jump in third-quarter revenue. The company also forecast fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 5-6 cents per share on revenue of $57 million-$58 million. Analysts were expecting a profit of 5 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on the company’s stock to $48 from $46.
** SEACHANGE INTERNATIONAL LTD, Thursday close $14.40, -13.00 pct after market
The company, which sells software that enables video services on multiple screens to cable operators, forecast an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 15-20 cents per share on revenue of $40 million-$45 million. Analysts were expecting a profit of 36 cents per share on revenue of $52.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
SeaChange’s third-quarter results were also below analysts’ estimates.
** THE COOPER COMPANIES INC, Thursday close $133.73, -7.00 pct after market
The medical device maker reported fourth-quarter revenue and profit below analysts’ estimates, hurt by a 7 percent fall in Asia-Pacific sales. (Compiled by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)