Stock Futures Cautiously Higher Amid Syria Attack Speculation

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher U.S. market open though remain around multi-week lows after two days of selloffs driven by fears over escalating tensions with Syria.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 1.25 points, or 1.37 points above fair value, to 1,629.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 14 points, or 16.87 points above fair value, to 14,772. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 5 points, or 5.92 points above fair value, to 3,064.5.

The S&P 500 posted its largest drop since June 20 on Tuesday as stocks tumbled on reports the U.S. may spearhead a multi-country military intervention against Syria this week in response to evidence of chemical weapons.

Paul Donovan, a London-based global economist at UBS, downplayed some of the worries about the conflict with Syria.

"Syria could impact the global economy through 1) direct impact on oil supply, 2) contagion creating instability in other economies in the region, 3) an increase in global terrorism risk," Donovan said in a note. "Of these, only the second option is a threat, and it seems a fairly muted economic threat."

Both gold and oil futures were calmer Wednesday after surging the prior session amid the departure to safety assets and concerns that escalating tensions with Syria could lead to oil supply disruptions. December gold futures were rising $6.70 to $1,426.90 an ounce, remaining at multi-month highs. October crude oil futures were spiking by $1.42 to $110.43 a barrel and were sitting at two-year highs.

At 10 a.m. EDT, the National Association of Realtors is expected to say its pending home sales index fell 0.5% in July after declining 0.4% the prior month.

U.S. home loan applications declined for a third consecutive week in the week ended Aug. 24 on rising mortgage rates, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The association reported that its seasonally adjusted Mortgage Index reflecting home purchase and refinancing activity dipped 2.5% last week after falling 4.6% the week before. However, home purchase loan demand appeared to have risen, with the index registering a gain of 2.4%.

"There has been some softness in the recent U.S. housing data, but we would ascribe this as being more a function of supply problems than of a lack of demand (house prices continue to rise too, which is what the consumer cares about)," Donovan noted.

Express ( EXPR) was surging more than 8% to $21.45 after the specialty apparel and accessory retailer hiked its full-year outlook on a pick-up in customer traffic and sales. For the second quarter, the company posted revenue that exceeded expectations as same-store sale grew 6%, and reported in-line earnings per share of 20 cents.

Joy Global ( JOY) was slumping 4.52% to $48.99 after the mining-equipment manufacturer reiterated its full-year guidance expectations and predicted adjusted earnings in the range of $5.75 to $5.95 a share on revenue of $4.9 billion to $5 billion, though foresees more challenges in the coming year.

"The supply surplus that was centered in the U.S. coal market last year has migrated to the international markets, and they are now going through similar aftermarket corrections to that in the U.S. Based on the U.S. experience, we expect this to create headwinds for most of the next year," the company said in a statement.

Groupon ( GRPN) is planning a network of North American warehouses for its physical goods business, pushing the coupons company into more direct competition with Amazon.com ( AMZN ), The Wall Street Journal reported. Amazon shares were edging lower to $280.50.

The DAX in Germany was shedding 0.99% and the FTSE 100 was down 0.63%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng finished off by 1.6% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed behind by 1.51%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was losing 9/32, raising the yield to 2.747%. The dollar was up 0.17% to $81.30 according to the U.S. dollar index.

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