U.S. stocks headed for a higher open on Thursday as investors took Wal-Mart's better-than-expected quarterly results as a sign the economy was on the way to recovery.
But an unexpected fall in July retail sales and a rise in new weekly jobless claims cast a shadow over the upbeat sentiment, trimming gains for U.S. stock index futures that rose above 1 percent in earlier premarket trading.
Retail sales were unexpectedly weaker, suggesting that the money spent on the 'Cash for Clunkers' plan wasn't spent on other things, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
The claims data shows that the labor market, while improving, remains difficult. People are still losing jobs and it's still tough.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Department store chain Kohl's Corp
Stocks pointing to a higher open include Apple Inc
S&P 500 futures were up 7.10 points, 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 65 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 12.75 points.
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.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)