Wall Street was set for a flat to higher open on Thursday after Texas Instruments raised its earnings forecast and data showed the number of people filing claims for jobless benefits fell last week.
Texas Instruments Inc
Dow component Procter & Gamble Co
But the optimism was offset by Monsanto Co
We are somewhat overbought short term, so I think the burden of proof is going to be on bulls to overcome Monsanto's lower-guidance impact on the bigger market, said Michael James, senior trader at regional investment bank Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.
It's going to cause some angst for a company this big to lower guidance this much for next year, and its potential read through to the overall economy, James said.
Data on Thursday showed initial and continued jobless claims fell last week, according to a government report. High unemployment is one of the biggest concerns as the economy attempts to pull out of recession.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.3 points and were about even with 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 14 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 4.25 points.
Investor focus also will be on health insurance stocks after President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Wednesday night pushing for healthcare reform. Obama told Congress to end its political bickering and move quickly on a broad overhaul of the health system and insurance market.
Stocks rose for a fourth-straight day of gains on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to its best finish so far this year as industrial and technology companies gained from a weak dollar. It was the highest close for the broad index since early October when it ended at 1,056.89.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)