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Stock Futures Point Higher on Promising Economic Data

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open Thursday as economic reports provided some optimism to Wall Street.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.02% to 13,033. Futures for the S&P 500 added 0.01% to 1407. Nasdaq futures were adding 0.28% to 2648, with a fair value of 2641.

ADP reported that private payrolls added 158,000 jobs in October. A consensus of economists expected 155,000, according to Econoday. Worth noting is that the ADP switched to Moody's as its economic consultant to revamp the data.

Initial jobless claims fell 23,000 to 363,000 in the week ended Oct. 20, but the four-week moving average ticked up for the second consecutive week to 368,000. The prior week's claims were revised to 372,000, or a 46,000 jump.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.09 a share, which beat an estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg. The company also announced it would buy back some $5 billion worth of shares in the fourth quarter. Shares of the oil company were off 0.75% in premarket trading.

Investors also anticipated a slew of other U.S. indicators Thursday including the ISM manufacturing index and consumer confidence, among others.

Royal Dutch Shell, the U.K. oil giant, reported that third-quarter core earnings declined 15% as oil and gas prices fell, but saw a 2.3% increase in third-quarter profit thanks to higher earnings from its liquefied natural gas operations.

The FTSE 100 in London was gaining 0.64%, helped in part by Shell's earnings, while the DAX in Germany was also up 0.68%. Asian markets received a jolt after China's October manufacturing PMI reading reached an eight-month high of 49.5, which was up from a prior month 47.9 and beat the 49.1 consensus among economists polled by Econoday. Japan's Nikkei average rose 0.21% overnight to close at 8947. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.83% to 21,821.

Gold for December delivery was adding $4.40 to $1,723.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts were increasing 21 cents to $86.45 a barrel.

The benchmark10-year Treasury was dipping 6/32, boosting the yield to 1.716%. The dollar was down 0.04%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Nonfarm business productivity for the third quarter increased 1.9% as the second-quarter number was revised upward to 2.2%, which was in step with the revision to gross domestic product. Labor costs dipped 0.1%; a consensus of economists had been looking for a 1.2% increase, according to Econoday.

U.S. retailers were expected to report October sales on Thursday. Wholesale giant Costco (COST) said Thursday morning that its same-store sales rose 7% in October, which beat analysts' estimates.

Automotive giants Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) will post October monthly sales on Thursday.

Chrysler, owned by Italian automotive manufacturer Fiat, reported October U.S. car sales gained 10%, but analysts polled by Bloomberg were looking for a 15% bump.

Late afternoon on Wednesday, Visa (V) reported quarterly net income of $1.7 billion at $2.47 a share. Shares of the credit card company were unchanged in pre-market trading.

Allstate (ALL) the largest publicly traded American auto and home insurer, reported Wednesday that net income rose $723 million up from $175 million a year earlier. Operating income was $1.46 a share, which beat a Bloomberg survey of economists who expected $1.13.

Other companies expected to report earnings on Thursday included insurance giant AIG (AIG), coffee chain Starbucks (SSBUX) and satellite radio company Sirius XM (SIRI).

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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