US stock futures little changed after economic data

New York (June 26)  U.S. stock-index futures pointed slightly higher on Thursday after economic reports on the labor market and personal spending.

"Jobless claims couldn't be any closer to spot on, personal income is exactly on consensus," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said of U..S. jobless claims declining by 2,000 to 312,000 last week, in line with expectations.

"So we've got an economic-data calendar that has not given us a catalyst one way or the other, and stock futures are reflecting that," Hogan said.

Markets overseas were boosted by a weaker-than-expected reading on U.S. economic growth, which reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates any time soon.

The U.S. economy contracted 2.9 percent on an annualized basis in the first quarter, a much steeper pace than expected, which briefly sent yields on benchmark 10 year-Treasury notes to three-week lows.

Separately, May durable goods orders unexpectedly declined 1 percent on the month, while the services sector expanded at its fastest clip in more than four years in June.
"Between the rise in service and manufacturing activity, GDP growth is set for a strong rebound in the second quarter," said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management.

"Unfortunately the Federal Reserve will want to see how the economy performs in third quarter before getting excited about the recovery. So at the end of the day, the latest economic reports simply validate the central bank's steady and conservative monetary policy stance."

Barclays will be in focus after the New York Attorney General said the U.K. bank would be sued over claims it deceived investors about using "dark pools." The bank pulled a $1.5 billion bond offering following the news. It shares tanked over 5 percent in early trade on the London Stock Exchange.

Winnebago will post quarterly numbers before Wall Street on Thursday, along with Accenture and ConAgra. Dow component Nike will report after markets close.

Other companies to watch include AbbVie, which has said it is willing to move "quickly and cooperatively" in striking a takeover deal with U.K. rare diseases specialist Shire.

Plus, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) announced it would buy the Frank Russell Company—which owns and runs the U.S. Russell indexes—for $2.7 billion. The LSE will also launch a $1.6 billion rights issue in September. Its shares traded 7.1 percent up on after the announcement.

In the bonds markets, the Treasury is scheduled to auction $29 billion in seven-year notes.

Geopolitical tensions eyed 

Tensions in Ukraine and a continuing military insurgency in Iraq are also on investors' minds.

Militants seized control of one of Iraq's largest airbase on Wednesday, as well as the Ajeel oil site, located east of Tikrit. The attack came as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he supported attempts to form a new government by July 1.

Meanwhile, Western powers warned Russia that they might impose new sanctions if Moscow does not take more action to defuse the conflict in east Ukraine.

Source: CNBC