MADRID (MarketWatch) — Stock futures rose Thursday, but gains were being kept in check by central bank meetings in Europe and the potential for surprise from weekly jobless claims and trade balance data.
On the corporate front, retailers are set to release same-store sales data.
Futures for the Dow industrials
“Granted, many are now postulating as to when the Dow will pass 15,000, but with a myriad of central bank actions due, this does seem as if it will dominate the agenda in the hours ahead - even if the direct implications of decisions in Frankfurt and London will have limited fallout for U.S. equities,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist with GFT Markets.
While most economists don’t see a rate cut from the European Central Bank or the Bank of England on Thursday, pressure for further easing is not expected to ease up, especially in the euro-zone amid a steady stream of bleak data.
The Bank of England will announce the MPC’s decision at noon London time, or 7 a.m. Eastern on Thursday. The ECB’s policy announcement is due at 7:45 a.m. Eastern, with ECB President Mario Draghi’s monthly news conference set to get under way at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
U.S. data is squeezed in between, and there’s plenty of it, though Friday’s nonfarm payroll is the figure that will get the most attention this week.
Ahead of that big jobs data, weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, and economists are calling for new claims to rise to 353,000 from 344,000 last week. However, claims have bounced around in the past few weeks and if they break lower towards the 325,000 mark or lower, that could hint of a jobs surge to come.
At the same time, the Labor Department will also release the first of two revisions to U.S. productivity in the fourth quarter. Economists expect productivity likely declined by 1.6% instead of the previously reported 2% drop, but productivity revisions tend not to be market sensitive.
Also at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, the U.S. trade deficit is set to rise to $42.4 billion from $38.5 billion in December 2012. During that month, oil imports fell and U.S. oil imports surged, but economists say January data could show that trend reversing.
The last piece of data for Thursday is the Federal Reserves release of the flow of funds for the fourth quarter, due at 12 noon Eastern. That report will provide details on consumer debt and household wealth, along with how much cash corporations have amassed.
U.S. stocks wrapped up trading on Wednesday with the Dow industrials
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index
Europe stocks were wobbling as investors took to the sidelines ahead of those central bank meetings. Shares of Nestle SA
Japan stocks finished at their best level in more than four years, while the Shanghai Composite Index
Gold and oil prices both firmed up as the dollar eased.
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