Stock index futures dipped on Thursday as investors awaited quarterly results from technology bellwether Intel, a day after the Dow industrials rose to a fresh 15-month high.
Intel Corp is expected to surpass Wall Street estimates when it kicks off technology-sector earnings after the bell, but analysts worry its shares may sell off if the 2010 outlook isn't rosy enough. The chipmaker is expected to report earnings of 30 cents per share, excluding items, up from 4 cents a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
On the macroeconomic front, weekly jobless claims and December retail sales data are due at 8:30 a.m. EST. Business inventories data is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
S&P 500 futures dipped 0.6 points and in line with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures dropped 6 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.5 points.
Financial shares will be in focus as President Barack Obama is due to propose major U.S. financial companies pay a fee to protect taxpayers from up to $117 billion in losses on the banks bailout that has spurred public fury at excessive Wall Street compensation. The announcement is set for 11:50 a.m. EST.
Resource-related shares will also be in the spotlight after mining major Rio Tinto Plc beat its own forecast for iron ore output in the fourth quarter, signaling robust demand from Chinese steelmakers.
Oil futures inches higher, hovering below $80 a barrel, as traders moved to cover short positions, taking advantage of a drop to year lows in the previous session on gains in U.S. distillates and crude stocks.
Google Inc may be active as China showed no sign of giving ground on censorship as the U.S. Internet giant threatened to quit the country.
U.S. chocolate maker Hershey Co is still working on a bid for Cadbury Plc that would top Kraft's hostile $17 billion takeover offer, a source said.
European stocks rose 0.5 percent in morning trade, boosted by banking and mining issues, with investors bracing for the European Central Bank's interest rate decision and comments.
U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as investors bet on recently weakened technology and financial shares, taking the Dow to a fresh 15-month high.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)