By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a lower open on Thursday, weighed by a disappointing outlook from Cisco Systems and weaker-than-expected data on consumer spending and the labor market.
Cisco fell 3.3 percent to $22.09 in premarket trading and was poised to weigh on each of the major U.S. indexes after the network-gear maker forecast a drop of 6 to 8 percent in revenue in the current quarter.
Futures extended declines after weaker-than-expected labor market and retail sales data. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 from 331,000 the week before and above the 330,000 forecast. Retail sales fell 0.4 percent in January, against a forecast for sales to be unchanged, while December was revised lower to a 0.1 percent decline.
Comcast Corp said it would buy Time Warner Cable Inc for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines the two largest U.S. cable operators.
Time Warner shares rose 8.7 percent to $147.05 in premarket while Comcast shed 2.4 percent to $53.90. Shares of Charter Communications Inc , which had also pursued Time Warner, fell 8.8 percent to $125.50 before the opening bell.
S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 12.5 points and were below 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 lost 105 points and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 23.75 points.
A deadly winter storm was bringing heavy snow, sleet and rain to much of the U.S. East Coast, grounding flights and shutting schools and government offices. Winter storm warnings and advisories were in place from Georgia up to Maine, and the system could blanket the Atlantic Coast over the next two days with 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cms) of snow.
A scheduled hearing by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in front of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday was postponed due to the snowstorm in the U.S. East Coast. Yellen's testimony Tuesday helped fuel strong gains on Wall Street.
Whole Foods Market Inc lost 7.7 percent to $51.22 in premarket after the largest U.S. organic and natural food retailer stunned investors on Wednesday by cutting its 2014 sales forecast for the second time in three months.
PepsiCo Inc reported a 5 percent jump in quarterly profit, helped by strong sales of Frito-Lay chips in the Americas and cost-cutting measures. Its shares gained 3.8 percent to $26.45 in premarket.
Of 365 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported earnings through Wednesday morning, 67.7 percent have beaten profit expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Avon Products Inc advanced 4.2 percent before the opening bell after it posted fourth-quarter results and said it may cost as much as $132 million to settle a U.S. bribery investigation into the beauty products company's efforts to develop new markets overseas.
The S&P 500 closed lower on Wednesday, with a four-day rally in the index just barely coming to an end after Procter & Gamble cut its outlook.
S&P 500 companies scheduled to report after the closing bell include Agilent Technologies Inc , American International Group , Cliffs Natural Resources Inc and Kraft Foods Group Inc .
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)