US Stock Futures Signal Higher Open

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The U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open Friday as signs of an improvement in global manufacturing buoyed the sentiment.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.14 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.26 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.29 percent.

Trading is expected to be calm Friday after the markets enjoyed a Thanksgiving Holiday Thursday and the stock markets will have an early close.

Market confidence was lifted Thursday after reports showed an improvement in manufacturing from both China and the euro zone.  Euro zone’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to an eight-month high of 46.2 in November from 45.4 in October while a private survey showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in more than a year in November.

The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of the nation-wide manufacturing, gained to 50.4 in November, entering an expansionary territory of above 50 for the first time in 13 months, from October’s final reading of 49.5. The Chinese data followed a report that showed manufacturing in U.S. grew at its fastest pace in five months in November.

On Wednesday, the U.S. stock markets ended with gains in light trading, with the S&P 500 closing on positive territory for a fourth session, following the official data showing that the number of new people claiming jobless benefits in America dropped in the previous week. News of a ceasefire in Gaza Strip after more than a week of attacks and air strikes further added to the sentiment.

European stock markets are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 6.09 points, DAX30 down by 18.93 points and CAC 40 down by 12.64 points.

Asian stock markets mostly ended higher Friday, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 0.78 percent, Chinese Shanghai Composite advanced 0.58 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite gained 0.62 percent. Japanese markets remained closed for a public holiday.

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