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Stock Futures Get Lift From Overseas Data; Jobless Claims Rise

Stocks in this article: ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC ANF SHLD HPQ ONXX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street Thursday as encouraging economic data from China and Europe helped offset a plunge in HP (HPQ) shares post-earnings, downbeat retail company reports, and a rise in weekly initial jobless claims.

Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) was rising 2.28% to $119.25. The company has given potential buyers, including Amgen (AMGN), access to trial data on its new cancer drug, removing a key hurdle that was holding up deal talks, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 8 points, or 4.2 points above fair value, to 1,644.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 54 points, or 28.45 points above fair value, to 14,901. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 20.50 points, or 12.43 points above fair value, to 3,083. U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday despite a stronger-than-expected home resale report as investors remained jittery about the prospects of a near-term decline in monthly bond purchases by the Fed after minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee left the markets uncertain over when the central bank may begin tapering its stimulus program, though there were indications that September was still a possibility.

Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) was plunging 18.57% to $38.05 in premarket trading after the specialty retailer of casual apparel missed second-quarter earnings expectations by 12 cents at 16 cents a share. The company also disappointed on the top line amid weakness in its women's apparel business and softer customer traffic.

Sears (SHLD) was shedding more than 7% to $40.09 after the discount chain and department store operator reported a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss of $1.46 a share on revenue of $8.87 billion vs. the average analyst loss estimate of $1.10 a share on revenue of $9.01 billion as U.S. same-store sales declined 1.5% amid steeper discounts. Online sales improved though, rising 20% at sears.com and kmart.com.

HP shares were plunging nearly 8% to $23.40 in premarket trading after the PC and printer maker reported revenue of $27.2 billion, down from $29.7 billion a year earlier. Analysts were looking for sales of $27.29 billion. The company said revenue was weighed down by the pressures of a tough PC environment, and noted the 2014 environment is likely to get worse.

Overnight, the flash reading of China's HSBC manufacturing PMI surprisingly showed a recovery to above 50 in August, signaling a significant rebound in growth during the summer quarter.

Meanwhile, the Markit Eurozone PMI Composite Output Index signaled the largest monthly increase in business activity for over two years in August, according to the flash estimate. The PMI rose for the fifth successive month to 51.7, the highest level since June 2011, and up from 50.5 in July.

The financial information services company also reported that German private sector business activity continued to rise in August, extending the current period of expansion to four months. This was highlighted by the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash Germany Composite Output Index posting 53.4 in August, up from 52.1 the previous month and above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

In other corporate news, Wells Fargo (WFC) will eliminate 2,300 jobs in mortgage production, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The bank is cutting the jobs because demand for refinancings has slumped and probably will drop even more as interest rates rise, Bloomberg noted.

Initial jobless claims increased by 13,000 to a greater-than-expected 336,000 in the week ended Aug. 17 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 323,000. Economists, on average, were expecting jobless claims of 330,000. However, the four-week moving average that irons out week-to-week volatility came in at 330,500, a decrease of 2,250.

The report also said that continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 10 increased by 29,000 to 2.999 million, versus the average estimate of 2.96 million.

The Conference Board's Index of Leading Indicators is expected to have risen 0.5% in July after being unchanged in June. The release will be out at 10 a.m. EDT.

The annual meeting of central bank officials in Jackson Hole, Wyo., begins Thursday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is not expected at the meeting.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 1/32, diluting the yield to 2.894%. The dollar was rising 0.55% to $81.66 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The FTSE 100 in London was rising 0.8%, while the DAX in Germany was gaining 1.07%.The Hong Kong Hang Seng finished up 0.36% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan settled down 0.44%.

December gold futures were down $2.40 to $1,367.70 an ounce and October crude oil futures were rising 51 cents to $104.36 a barrel.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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