Market Morning: Signaling Gains (Update 1)

Updated to reflect market declines in Europe

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were signaling a mildly higher start for Wall Street on Thursday, but European shares reversed course and moved lower after the European Commission said the 17-nation eurozone economy will suffer a modest recession this year.

Asian shares ended Thursday's trading session mixed. Japan's 225 Nikkei rose 0.4% to close at 9,595.57, its highest finish since Aug. 4. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.8%.

In the U.S. on Wednesday, stocks fell following weak manufacturing reports from overseas.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 27.5 points, or 0.2%, to 12,938. The S&P 500 was behind by 4.6 points, or 0.3%, at 1358. The Nasdaq fell 15.4 points, or 0.5%, at 2933.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday features weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST, the Federal Housing Finance Agency housing price index for December at 10 a.m., and weekly crude inventories data at 11 a.m.

Economists calls for initial jobless claims to come in at 355,000, according to

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), the PC and printer maker, said first-quarter adjusted earnings topped analysts' estimates but its outlook for the current quarter came in short of Wall Street expectations.

HP said it expects earnings of 88 cents to 91 cents per share for the quarter ending in April, below the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 95 cents.

Target ( TGT) is expected by analysts Thursday to report fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $1.40 a share on revenue of $21.21 billion.

Other retailers reporting earnings Thursday include Sears ( SHLD), Gap ( GPS) and Kohl's ( KSS).

Apple ( AAPL) holds its shareholders' meeting Thursday at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

The iPhone and iPad maker may have to address what it plans to do with its cash pile of nearly $98 billion.

Mitt Romney put in a strong debate performance in Arizona on Wednesday evening, hitting often at Rick Santorum for supporting big-spending government programs.

"This debate will really give Romney some momentum heading into the Michigan primary," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said, Reuters reported. "Santorum clearly was having a hard time having to apologize and explain so many of his votes."

The Michigan primary is scheduled for next Tuesday.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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