U.S. stock index futures suggest a higher opening to markets on Thursday, ahead of jobless claims data and the release of a second estimate of the country's economic growth in the second quarter, and after receding concerns of an imminent U.S.-led military strike on Syria stabilized global markets.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.11 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.25 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.38 percent.
The second estimate of U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, data for the second quarter is due to be released at 8.30 a.m. EDT on Thursday and analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the U.S. economy is likely to have gained 0.7 percent in the second quarter, in line with the first estimate released last month, but down from an annualized 1.1 percent revised growth registered in the first three months of the year.
The GDP number will be closely watched by both the Federal Reserve and financial markets as the Fed has indicated that the future of its bond-buying program will depend on the strength of economic indicators.
Meanwhile, the initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is scheduled to be released by the Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists predict that claims are likely to decrease to 329,000 for the week ended Aug. 24, down from 336,000 in the previous week.
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Meanwhile, economists expect continuing jobless claims data, which measure the number of unemployed individuals who qualify for benefits under unemployment insurance, to decrease marginally to 2.980 million from the 2.999 million recorded in the previous week.
Jitters surrounding the crisis in Syria subsided on Wednesday after the United Nations, led by Russia, blocked the U.S.' plan to strike Syria, and global markets moved closer to stabilization on Thursday.
In Europe, markets traded higher on Thursday, ending a three-day losing streak, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index up 0.62 percent, London’s FTSE 100 up 0.68 percent, Germany's DAX-30 up 0.45 percent and France's CAC-40 trading up 0.42 percent.
Data released on Thursday showed that Spain’s economy contracted by 0.1 percent, quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter, in line with analysts’ expectations. And, data out of Germany showed that unemployment in July dropped slightly to 5.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent in the previous month, and beating a consensus of 5.4 percent.
In Asia, most markets rebounded on Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street, and after reports stated that the U.S. and its allies might not immediately attack Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.
The MSCI All Country Asia index, excluding Japan, gained 1.51 percent on Thursday while the Philippine stock index, PSCi, gained 3.59 percent after plunging 3.02 percent in the previous session.
The Philippine economy defied the economic slowdown in large parts of Asia to grow at a higher-than-expected annual rate of 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, riding on a resilient service sector, and buoyant consumer and public spending.
Indonesia’s JSX Composite gained 1.92 percent; the index had fallen 3.71 percent in the previous session. Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.91 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.10 percent.
In China, the Shanghai Composite index was trading down 0.19 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.84 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index rallied 1.22 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 2.22 percent in late-afternoon trade.