By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
MADRID (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures moved higher early Thursday, as upbeat Chinese and euro-zone data soothed some of the sting from minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which indicated the central bank is on track to pare its bond purchases by the end of the year.
Investors will get fresh data via weekly jobless claims numbers and leading indicators later in the day.
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) posted a second-quarter loss of $194 million on Thursday. More retailers will report, with Dollar Tree Inc. (DG) among those expected ahead of the bell. Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) could be in focus, after the PC maker said it swung to a fiscal third-quarter profit late Wednesday. Read: H-P, GameStop, Sears are stocks to watch Thursday
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU3) rose 46 points, or 0.3%, to 14,893, while those for the Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPU3) rose 8.5 points, or 0.5%, to 1,645. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDU3) added 20.50 points, or 0.7%, to 3,083.
On the data front, initial weekly jobless claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect claims to bump back up to 330,000 from 320,000 in the prior week. See: Spotlight on the economy
At 9 a.m. Eastern, two reports are expected to show U.S. manufacturing expanded in August and home prices rose in June -- via the Markit 'flash" PMI manufacturing index and the FHFA home price index. The leading economic index is due at 10 a.m., and economists expect indicators will rise 0.5% in July after no gain in June.
Finally at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher will speak at the U.S. manufacturing summit.
U.S. stocks finished sharply lower Wednesday after the minutes of the July Federal Open Market Committee Meeting confirmed views that the Fed will begin tapering its $85-billion-dollar-a-month bond purchases by the end of the year, even though no time frame was given.
The Dow industrials (DJI) stretched losses to a sixth session on Wednesday, finishing below 15,000 for the first time since July 3. It ended at 14,897.55, down 105.44 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 index (SPX) lost 9.55 points, or 0.6%, to 1,642.80.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields (10_YEAR) marked fresh two-year highs on Thursday, moving above 2.9% in Asia trading, and most recently trading at 2.913%, according to FactSet Research.
Helping soothe some Fed-related unease, China's manufacturing data saw a surprise rebound in August, according to a preliminary reading of HSBC's Purchasing Managers' index. The PMI rebounded to a four-month high of 50.1, which brings it close to China's official data, which came in at 50.3 in July.
In Germany, the yield on the German bund jumped to a 17-month high after data showed business activity in the euro zone expanded at the fastest pace in over two years in August. Separately, Germany's purchasing managers index rose to a 7-month high in August, data from Markit showed.
Europe stocks rallied on the data, and Asia stocks also came off lows, but emerging markets were again under pressure with Philippine stocks plunging after severe floods and a public holiday kept the index closed. The Indian rupee fell to a fresh record low against the dollar, which was largely holding steady against major rivals.
In commodity markets, gold prices slipped and oil prices were higher.
-Barbara Kollmeyer; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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08-22-13 0623ETCopyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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