Wall Street was set for a higher open on Thursday after three straight winning sessions on relief European leaders were committed to keeping Greece afloat, but weaker-than-expected data, including jobless claims, kept gains in check.
U.S. stock index futures pared advances after a report showed initial jobless claims rose to their highest since June, and a gauge of New York State manufacturing contracted in September.
Another report showed the inflation rate decelerated slightly in August as gasoline prices rose at a more modest pace and the cost of buying a new car held steady.
First of all, the trend of jobless claims is moving upwards. That, and the Empire State suggest things are slowing down. CPI is moving up somewhat as well, so it will make it more difficult for the Fed to talk about lower rates, even if the economy needs it, said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.
We've had some strong days lately, and given the volatility we've seen I would expect us to move lower on these numbers.
S&P 500 futures gained 10.4 points and were 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 were up 87 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 23.25 points.
On Wednesday, stocks rose 1 percent to rack up a third straight winning day after European leaders displayed new urgency in efforts to contain the regional debt crisis.
I have no doubt that Greece stays in the euro zone, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak + Co in New York. It's just the state of their balance sheet that needs to be fixed and that will ultimately be done through a 50 percent plus cut to the value of their existing debt outstanding.
Germany and France called on Greece to implement all financial reforms strictly and effectively, a German government spokesman said.
At 9:15 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Federal Reserve releases industrial production and capacity utilization data for August. Economists look for a 0.1 percent rise in production and a reading of 77.5 percent for capacity utilization. In the previous report, production rose 0.9 percent and capacity utilization was 77.5 percent.
At 10:00 a.m. EDT, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve releases its September business activity survey. Economists forecast a reading of -15.0 versus -30.7 in August.
Switzerland's UBS AG
Diversified U.S. manufacturer Tyco International Ltd
A federal jury awarded DuPont and Co
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)