All eyes will be on Intel Thursday, as the chip giant meets with analysts after the bell to give its midquarter update. The Dow should open down slightly.
A few economic reports are scheduled for release Thursday: initial jobless claims will be released for the preceding week, and are expected to show a slight drop. In addition, wholesale trade figures should be flat from the preceding month.
Analysts have been eagerly awaiting the Intel report; the company eliminated 5,000 jobs in March and told investors last month that second-quarter sales would fall about 20 percent from last year. On Wednesday, Vice President Paul Otellini said in a Financial Times interview that the semiconductor giant should be able to ride out the current sector slump without making further job cuts.
The Intel update comes amid more signs that the struggling economy may not turn around soon. Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina told investors that the downturn in North America and Europe is now hitting Asia and Latin America.
And research firm IDC reported that for the first time, unit shipments of PCs in the U.S. are expected to decline from the preceding year.
Stocks to watch
• National Semiconductor is scheduled to report earnings Thursday afternoon. Analysts are expecting the company to post a 3 cent per-share loss. National Semi, which makes chips for cell phones and consumer electronics devices, had already warned investors that sales would be off 16 percent to 18 percent from the previous quarter, and announced it would lay off of 1,100 workers.
• Broadcom warned investors Wednesday that sales would be weak in the second quarter. The maker of networking semiconductor products said sales will be 32 percent to 35 percent lower than the $310.5 million posted in the first quarter, reflecting "continued weakness in the technology sector." Analysts had forecast sales of $254.7 million, according to First Call.
• Alcatel is selling its Internet-access modem business to Thomson Multimedia for $389 million in stock. Alcatel is overhauling its businesses following its collapsed merger with Lucent.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average may open 4 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 1.90 points to 1272 at 4:49 a.m. PDT in 24-hour electronic trading.
Reuters contributed to this report.