Stock index futures slightly added to gains on Thursday after data showed new claims for unemployment benefits rose marginally last week, allaying fears of a major setback in the labor market recovery.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 58 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 10.5 points.
SanDisk Corp. (SNDK) advanced 2.7 percent as the maker of flash memory for mobile devices predicted sales may beat some analysts' estimates. EBay Inc. (eBay) declined 2.8 percent after reporting first-quarter revenue that missed some projections.
Standard & Poor's 500 index futures expiring in June added 0.2 percent to 1,549.1 at 10:11 a.m. in London as European shares rebounded from the lowest level this year. The benchmark gauge for U.S. equities declined 1.4 percent Wednesday, closing at the lowest level since March 35, amid disappointing results at companies from Bank of America Corp. (BAC) to Textron Inc. (TXT). Contracts on the Dow Jones industrial average gained 26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,578 Thursday.
"It's an important earnings season, with market participants trying to see if corporate earnings and forecasts are going to be in line with the weakening global macro data," Serge Berger, a Zurich-based trader at Blue Oak Advisors LLC, said in a phone interview. "After the rally we've seen since the beginning of the year, without a real correction, we're entering a vulnerable phase. Stocks are priced to perfection in the near term, and it's going to take unbelievably good earnings for the rally to continue at this pace." The S&P 500 has fallen 2.6 percent since reaching an all- time high of 1,593.37 on April 11, as China's economic growth unexpectedly slowed, commodities tumbled and data on U.S. employment and retail sales missed forecasts. The gauge has still rallied 8.8 percent this year.
Some 29 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to post results Thursday. Of those that have reported so far this season, 70 percent have beaten analysts' estimates for profit and 51 percent have exceeded sales forecasts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A government report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington may show initial jobless-benefit claims rose to 350,000 in the week ended April 13, from 346,000 the previous period, according to the median estimate of 46 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
The Conference Board is due to release its gauge of the outlook for the U.S. economy at 10 a.m. in New York. The index of leading indicators rose 0.1 percent in March after a 0.5 percent gain the previous month, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The Italian parliament meets Thursday to begin the selection of a new president. The new head of state will take the lead in trying to end Italy's political gridlock after inconclusive elections on Feb. 24-25.
SanDisk advanced 2.7 percent to $57.21 in Germany. Second-quarter sales will be $1.35 billion to $1.4 billion as the company limits chip-supply increases to support stable pricing, Chief Financial Officer Judy Bruner said late Wednesday. For the year, revenue will be $5.6 billion to $5.75 billion. That compares with average analyst projections of $1.34 billion for the quarter and $5.65 billion for 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
eBay, the operator of the largest Internet marketplace, lost 3.6 percent to $56.10 in early New York trading. First-quarter sales amounted to $3.75 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $3.77 billion. Second-quarter revenue will be $3.8 billion to $3.9 billion, shy of the average prediction for $3.95 billion.
Roper Industries Inc. (ROP) might move. The maker of products from medical imaging to refrigeration valves agreed to purchase Managed Health Care Associates Inc. for $1 billion in cash, in its second large medical transaction in less than a year. The stock didn't trade in Europe.