U.S. futures ease up ahead of data, fiscal cliff talks; Dow up 0.2%

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Investing.com - Investing.com - U.S. stock futures pointed to a modestly higher open on Thursday, as investors looked ahead to a flurry of key U.S. economic data, while continuing to focus on U.S. budget negotiations.

Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.2% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.2% increase, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.3% gain.

Market sentiment was hit by growing doubts over whether a deal to avoid the U.S. fiscal cliff will be reached ahead of the January 1 deadline, fuelling concern that automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will be triggered.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the White House would veto a tax and spending proposal presented by House Speaker John Boehner.

Without a deal, the U.S. could fall back into recession and drag much of the world down with it.

Market players were looking ahead to a flurry of U.S. economic data later in the day, to gauge the strength of the world's largest economy.

The country was to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims, as well as revised data on third quarter growth and a report on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia. In addition, the U.S. was to publish industry data on existing home sales.

In earnings news, Bed Bath & Beyond saw shares drop 3.9% ahead of the open after the retailer provided earnings guidance which was below market consensus after markets closed on Wednesday. The company also authorized a share buyback of as much as USD2.5 billion.

For the third quarter, the company reported net income of USD232.8 million, compared to income of USD228.5 million in last year's corresponding quarter.

Shares in KB Home lost 1.2% in pre-market trade after the home builder said fiscal fourth quarter net income declined 45% to USD7.7 million from USD13.9 million in the same period a year earlier.

On the upside, Jabil Circuit saw shares rally 5.5% after the firm reported fiscal-first-quarter sales which exceeded market expectations late Wednesday.

Other stocks in focus included Blackberry maker Research In Motion and athletic apparel giant Nike, which were both slated to release corporate earnings after Thursday's closing bell.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were steady in rangebound trade, as investors eyed ongoing U.S. budget talks.

The EURO STOXX 50 was little changed, France's CAC 40 eased up 0.1%, Germany's DAX was flat, while Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.05%.

During the Asian trading session, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.2%, as investors locked in profits after the Bank of Japan boosted the size of its asset-purchase program by JPY10 trillion, broadly in line with market expectations.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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