U.S. stock index futures rose more than 1 percent on Thursday after Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported second-quarter results that topped Wall Street's expectations, boosting investors' confidence in consumer spending ahead of a government report on July retail sales.
Shares of Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, rose 1.8 percent in premarket trade to $51.45 after the results.
A lot of people missed out on the historical move we have seen since March, and any positive news like Wal-Mart is what pushes people to come in to the market, said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Pullbacks have been muted, and that seems to be rationalizing more buying.
Investors will get a better picture of consumer spending later on Wednesday when the Commerce Department releases data on U.S. retail sales for July at 8:30 a.m. A Reuters survey of economists forecasts a 0.7 percent rise compared with a 0.6 percent rise in June. Excluding automobiles, sales are seen up 0.1 percent compared with a 0.3 percent decline in the prior month.
Also at 8:30 a.m., the U.S. Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 545,000 new filings compared with 550,000 in the prior week.
S&P 500 futures were up 11.40 points, or 1.14 percent, and above 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 gained 104 points, or 1.12 percent, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 17.25 points or 1.07 percent.
Financial stocks continue to be in the spotlight. Hedge fund manager John Paulson, who made a fortune betting against financial companies after foreseeing the credit crisis, stocked up on shares of Bank of America Corp during the second quarter, a regulatory filing showed. Bank of America shares gained 4.7 percent in premarket trade to $16.68.
Department store chain Kohl's Corp reported slightly better-than-expected quarterly profits, but its outlook fell below Wall Street's forecasts and its shares fell 1.5 percent to $51.45 .
Large U.S. food companies, including Kraft Foods Inc , General Mills Inc and Hershey Co , said the country could virtually run out of sugar unless the Obama administration eased import curbs, the Wall Street Journal said.
U.S. stocks powered higher on Wednesday after reassuring comments from the Federal Reserve, erasing losses from earlier in the week. The broad S&P 500 index <.SPX> ended up 48.7 percent from a 12-year closing low set on March 9.