Stock Futures Edge Higher as BlackBerry Jumps on Auction Speculation

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were inching cautiously higher Thursday as investors digested a barrage of economic data, some of which more clearly signaled than others that Federal Reserve's ultra-loose monetary policy has been helpful in bolstering the economy.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank on Thursday kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low 0.5%. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi was to hold a press conference shortly after the decision. Meanwhile, the Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5%, and decided to maintain its economic stimulus package at 375 billion pounds, or $580 billion.

Also, the Group of 20 was holding its summit of leaders from major economies in Russia, where a primary focus is debate about the potential use of force against Syria.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 2 points, or 3.72 points above fair value, to 1,655.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining 4 points, or 10.13 points above fair value, to 14,928. Futures for the Nasdaq were ahead by 6 points, or 10.11 points above fair value, to 3,134.25. In markets, BlackBerry ( BBRY) was rising 2.79% to $11.05 in premarket trading. The company intends to run a fast auction process that could be wrapped up by November, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Since BlackBerry announced in August that it had formed a special committee of board members to "explore strategic alternatives," the smartphone maker has held preliminary talks with parties interested in buying part or all of the company, one of the people told the Journal.

Kaydon ( KDN) was surging more than 22% to $35.51. Sweden's SKF, the world's largest maker of bearings, agreed to buy Kaydon for $1.25 billion in cash to expand its operations in the U.S. Kaydon is being acquired for $35.50 a share, a 22% premium to Kaydon's closing price on Wednesday of $29.10.

Jobless claims fell by 9,000 to a lower than expected 323,000 from an upwardly-revised 332,000 for the week ended Aug. 31, according to Labor Department. Economists were expecting a slip to 330,000. The four-week moving average was 328,500, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's average of 331,500.

The private sector created a worse than expected 176,000 jobs in August, up down from a downwardly revised 198,000 in July, according to payroll processor Automatic Data Processing. A 200,000 increase was expected according to a poll of economists by Thomson Reuters.

Monthly job cuts in August surged to the highest level since February, as U.S.-based employers announced plans last month to slash payrolls by 50,462, executive outplacement services provider Challenger Gray & Christmas reported.

These labor market reports arrived ahead of Friday's August nonfarm payrolls report.

Nonfarm labor productivity rose 2.3% in the second quarter, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. On average economists were expecting a rise of 1.5%. The report said that unit labor costs were unchanged versus the expectation of 0.8% increase.

The Census Bureau is expected to report at 10 a.m. that factory orders fell 3.3% in July after rising 1.5% in June. At the same time, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing Index is expected to have slipped to 55 in August from 56 in July.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota is expected to answer questions at an economic indicator breakfast event in La Crosse, Wisconsin that begins at 9 a.m.

In more company news, LinkedIn ( LNKD) was slipping 1.67% to $234.95. The professional networking site announced Wednesday evening that the company was pricing its follow-on offering of about 5.38 million shares of Class A common stock at $223 a share, roughly tallying up to an estimated $1.2 billion.

Merck ( MRK) is expected to release phase II data on its BACE inhibitor by the end of this year, following up on phase Ib data that demonstrated an anti-amyloid effect -- although the trial was conducted in healthy patients and not in Alzheimer's patients.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 7/32, pushing the yield up to 2.927%. The dollar was rising 0.09% to $82.25 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The FTSE 100 was rising by 0.64% and the DAX in Germany was gaining 0.45%. The Nikkei 225 in Japan added 0.08% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng rose 1.22%.

December gold futures were rising $3.20 to $1,393.20 an ounce. October light sweet crude oil futures were advancing by 64 cents to $107.87 a barrel.

The S&P 500 posted its biggest advance in two weeks Wednesday, bolstered by the Fed which said summer spending on homes and automobiles helped provide "modest to moderate" growth, a trend that has also helped sustain this year's rally in equities.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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

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