Stock futures rose on Thursday as results from mobile phone maker Motorola Inc and fellow tech leader EMC Corp helped ease worries about third-quarter earnings.
Shares of EMC rose nearly 4 percent before the bell after the largest maker of data storage equipment posted earnings in line with market expectations and said it would double its stock buy-back target to $2 billion.
Optimism about a cut in interest rates next week added to the positive tone, analysts said. The Federal Reserve's rate-setting committee is due to meet on October 30-31 and is expected to lower both the benchmark overnight federal funds rate and the discount rate.
Data on durable goods and home sales were expected to provide clues about the economy's health.
The big bet now is that the Fed cuts rates, and as we get closer to that, people will focus on data and the market is going to gyrate with that, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
S&P 500 futures were up 5.9 points and above fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.
Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 54 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 15.50 points.
Motorola forecast another profit for the current quarter even as revenue fell from a year ago.
The Commerce Department releases September durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a rise in orders of 1.5 percent versus a 4.9 percent fall in August.
The Commerce Department releases new home sales for September at 10 a.m.
In trading before the market open, EMC's stock was up 82 cents at $23.35. It closed Wednesday at $22.53.
After the close on Wednesday, Symantec Corp's shares dropped 11 percent in extended trading after the company reported a 60 percent drop in quarterly profit and gave a weak outlook.