Stock Futures Rise on Upbeat Economic Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street Thursday as upbeat data on U.S. jobs and housing helped offset lackluster quarterly results from Bank of America ( BAC) and Citigroup ( C).

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 37 points, or 24.77 points above fair value, at 13,474. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 6.25 points, or 4.47 points above fair value, at 1471. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 13.50 points, or 11.22 points above fair value, at 2739.

Bank of America reported fourth-quarter profit of $700 million, or 3 cents a share, beating the average analyst estimate by a penny. Net revenue, however, came in at $18.9 billion, compared with estimates of $21 billion. Shares were off 0.25% after an initial spike in premarket trading.

Citigroup, the third-largest bank in the U.S., missed expectations in the fourth quarter, as higher legal expenses and lower reserve releases hurt profit. Shares were down more than 2%.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 12 were 335,000, a decrease of 37,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 372,000. The four-week moving average was 359,250, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week's average of 366,000.

Continuing claims for the week ended Jan. 5 were 3.214 million, an increase of 87,000 from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.127 million.

On average, economists were expecting initial jobless claims to slide to 365,000 and continuing claims to increase to 3.159 million.

The Census Bureau said that housing starts rose in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 from a downwardly revised 851,000 in November. Building permits rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 903,000 from an upwardly revised 900,000.

Economists were expecting housing starts to rise to a rate of 890,000 and building permits to come in at a rate of 903,000.

"This is a strong set of data even though claims does have some caveats with adjustments, so the grand strength is challenged a bit," said David Ader, a strategist with CRT. "Housing starts are quite strong and broad based and even permits, while quiet, offer more single-family gains so a bit of tone there too."

At 10 a.m., the Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook survey is expected to come in at 5.8 for January after a print of 8.1 in December.

At 12:05 p.m., Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart speaks at a business forum in New York.

The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.24%, while the DAX in Germany was off 0.31%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.07% as investors awaited China's fourth-quarter gross domestic product numbers. The Nikkei in Japan ticked up 0.09% as the yen weakened.

Gold for February delivery was down 10 cents at $1,683.10 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil futures were up 35 cents at $94.59 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 7/32, raising the yield to 1.85%. The dollar was down 0.21%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has been grounded in Europe after the United States grounded the planes and ordered a safety review following a series of recent incidents with the aircraft.

Shares of the Dow component were sinking 1.8%.

Chipmaker Intel ( INTC) reports fourth-quarter earnings after Thursday's closing bell and analysts forecast a profit of 45 cents a share, down from 64 cents a year earlier. Shares were up 0.5%.

Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN) on Thursday announced fourth-quarter earnings that were "essentially unchanged" from the third quarter, but underlying revenue trends were quite positive. Shares were rising more than 2%.

Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) of Cincinnati on Thursday announced another quarter of very strong mortgage revenue growth and solid increases in commercial and industrial loan balances. Shares were adding close to 3%.

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) shares climbed Wednesday following a news report that potential purchasers are evaluating the company's Autonomy and EDS units. Shares were up incrementally in premarket trading Thursday.

EBay ( EBAY) posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 70 cents a share, a penny above analysts' forecasts, and 17% higher than adjusted earnings a year earlier. Shares were jumping 2.36%.

UnitedHealth ( UNH) booked in-line fourth-quarter earnings of $1.20 a share on revenue of $28.77 billion, as increasing medical costs offset sales growth. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue of $28.2 billion. Shares were a touch lower.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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

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