Here are the top news, trends, and analysis investors need to start their trading day:

1. Wall Street looks flat for a bright spot in a troubled month

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on August 9, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

US stock futures were flat on Thursday after stronger-than-expected retail sales data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rebounded on Wednesday for their second surge in the last eight sessions. The Nasdaq broke a five-session losing streak. Ahead of Thursday’s Wall Street opening, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all in the red in the historically rough month of September. The Dow was 2.3% off its August 16 closing high. The S&P 500 was more than 1.2% off its closing record on September 2. The Nasdaq was 1.4% off its September 7th closing high.

2. Investors digest stronger retail sales, weaker jobless claims image

Retail sales saw a surprising surge in August despite fears that escalating Covid cases and supply chain issues could hold consumers back. Revenue rose 0.7% for the month, compared to a 0.8% decrease. In a separate report, initial jobless claims for the week ending September 11 were higher than expected, rising to 332,000 from the previous week’s pandemic-era low, slightly revised to 312,000. Investors are looking in Thursday’s data for signals of how the economy is weathering Covid and how that could feed into the Federal Reserve’s deliberations on when to start tapering bond purchases. The central banks will hold their two-day September meeting next week.

3. Much of September’s losses historically come by month

A screen shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks while a trader works in an item on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 27, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The Fed’s political statement next Wednesday and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference are wild cards in what is already a particularly weak period for stocks. Historically, most of September’s losses come in the late half of the month. In fact, the S&P 500 usually seems to peak around the 17th day of the month, this Friday. CNBC’s Jim Cramer and others on Wall Street have warned about this pattern. So far in September the index has lost almost 1%. The Dow and Nasdaq lost 1.5% and 0.6% respectively over the month. In the year to date, however, the S&P 500 rose almost 19.3%; the Dow rose over 13.7%; and the Nasdaq was up 17.6%.

4. FDA suggests a cautious tone before meeting the vaccine boosters

Vials and a medical syringe displayed in front of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) logo. FDA finds the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pavlo Gonchar | LightRakete | Getty Images

5. Southwest Airlines Introduces New Incentives for Covid Vaccines for Employees

An American Airlines Group Inc. passenger aircraft lands at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, USA on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines has introduced new incentives to vaccinate employees against Covid. The Dallas-based airline will offer additional pay to workers who produce proof of full vaccination by mid-November, according to a company memo verified by CNBC. US airlines have taken different approaches to vaccinate their employees. United has demanded that its roughly 67,000 employees in the U.S. be vaccinated and says it will give temporary unpaid leave to employees receiving religious exemptions. Delta Air Lines plans to charge unvaccinated employees $ 200 more for company health insurance starting November.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow the whole market like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with coronavirus coverage from CNBC.