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Stock Futures Dip as Stronger U.S. Economy Augers Tapering

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were dipping Thursday as better-than-expected U.S. economic growth heightened expectations that the Federal Reservewill begin to curb its bond-buying stimulus measures that have fueled equity markets for close to two years.

Meanwhile Vodafone (VOD) and Verizon Communications (VZ) were helping to push the broader market higher as well amid joint venture sale talks. Commodities action moderated overnight.

Futures for the S&P 500 were slipping 0.75 points, or 1.36 points below fair value, to 1,631.5. Stocks rose Wednesday as concern eased about the potential magnitude of international military action against Syria. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 45 points, or 47.49 points above fair value, to 14,851. Futures for the Nasdaq were trading ahead by 12.5 points, or 9.48 points above fair value, to 3,080.75.

Vodafone (VOD) confirmed Thursday it is in talks with Verizon Communications (VZ) to sell its 45% stake in their joint venture, Verizon Wireless. Vodafone was jumping 8.5% to $31.91, while Verizon was advancing 7.39% to $50.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the two companies had rekindled discussions in a deal that likely would cost Verizon well more than $100 billion. Vodafone said Thursday there is no certainty an agreement will be reached.

Also Guess? (GES) shares were surging by 15.6% to $31.57 in premarket trading. The jeans maker posted fiscal second-quarter profit and revenue that topped analysts' forecasts and it raised its earnings guidance for the full year. Adjusted profit for the quarter was 52 cents a share and revenue rose to $639 million from $635.4 million a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting Guess? to post earnings of 36 cents a share on revenue of $622.9 million.

The second estimate for U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product showed a rise of 2.5%, up from the advance estimate of a 1.7% rise and better than the 2.2% growth expected by economists, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

On the labor market front, initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 24 fell by 6,000 to 331,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists on average were expecting claims of 332,000. Meantime continuing claims for the week of Aug. 17 decreased by 14,000 to 2.989 million versus the average economist estimate of 2.98 million.

President Barack Obama told PBS NewsHour Wednesday that the conclusion is that the Syrian government definitely carried out chemical weapons attacks against civilians in the country, and therefore there needs to be "international consequences." However, he hasn't yet decided on moving forward with military action in Syria.

Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker will speak about the history of the Fed in Newport News, Va., at 2 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m., St. Louis Fed Bank President James Bullard is expected to speak about the economy and monetary policy in Tupelo, Miss.

In other corporate news, Campbell Soup (CPB) was slipping 1.59% to $44 after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $1.72 billion versus the average analyst estimate of 42 cents a share on revenue of $1.84 billion, according to a poll of analyst by Thomson Reuters. The company's beverages business continue to show signs of weakness. Sales for International Simple Meals and Beverages were $187 million for the fourth quarter, a decrease of 7% from a year ago. Also, sales for U.S. Beverages were $173 million, a decrease of 4% compared to the year-ago period.

The DAX in Germany was edging up 0.35% and the FTSE 100 was rising 0.47%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng settled up by 0.84% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed up by 0.91%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 4/32, boosting the yield to 2.783%. The dollar was up 0.49% to $81.83 according to the U.S. dollar index.

December gold futures were declining by $8 to $1,410.80 an ounce and October crude oil futures were down by 93 cents to $109.17 a barrel as immediate concerns about Syria were pushed to the backburner for now.

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