Stock Futures Point to Slightly Higher Open

Updated from 6:00 a.m. EDT

Premarket futures were intimating a higher open for U.S. stocks Thursday, even as traders braced for a flood of corporate earnings statements and a troubled Swiss bank secured help from its government.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 22.5 points at 925.8 and were 16 points ahead of fair value. Nasdaq futures were better by 34 points at 1263 and were 11.7 points ahead of fair value.

On Wednesday, stocks suffered heavy losses as traders turned their attention away from an internationally coordinated solution to the credit crisis to focus on an increasingly weak domestic economy.

Ahead of the new trading day, Swiss bank UBS ( UBS) received a $5.3 billion cash injection from the Swiss government in exchange for a 9% equity position in the company. UBS and the Swiss National Bank also reached an agreement for UBS to transfer up to $60 billion of currently illiquid securities and other assets from its balance sheet to a separate fund.

Corporate earnings will once again be in focus. Following the close Wednesday, online auctioneer eBay ( EBAY) swung to a third-quarter profit but said its core business may face difficulties ahead.

Quarterly results from financial firms continued to reflect the impact of the credit crunch. Citigroup ( C) reported a third-quarter loss that was narrower than the Street had forecast.

Merrill Lynch ( MER), meanwhile, posted a widened loss that included a $2.5 billion payment related to a stock offering and a $425 million expense tied to settlement of a government approval of its dealings in auction-rate securities.

Bank of New York Mellon ( BK) and BB&T ( BBT) announced declines in profit of 53% and 19%, respectively.

Beyond the financials, Nokia ( NOK) reported declining profit. Continental Airlines ( CAL) said it lost money for the quarter, in part because of high fuel costs.

On a positive note, coal company Peabody Energy ( BTU) reported a 59% increase in third-quarter earnings on rising revenue.

Shifting to economic data, the Department of Labor's September consumer price index showed that prices were unchanged for the month, better than the 0.1% increase expected by economists. The core rate of price increases came in at 0.1%, below a 0.2% increase in August.

The Department of Labor also reported that, for the week ended October 11, jobless claims declined by 16,000 to 461,000, below a consensus estimate of 470,000 and down from 477,000 the previous week.

A bit later, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve is set to release its manufacturing index. Industrial production and capacity utilization numbers from the Fed are also due out.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was declining 36 cents to $74.18 a barrel. Gold was tacking on 30 cents to $839.30.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were falling in price. The 10-year note was losing 22/32 to yield 4.03%, and the 30-year was down 1-1/32, yielding 4.25%. The dollar was gaining on the euro, yen and pound.

Overseas, European markets such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were trading lower. In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed with losses.

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