US stock futures rise as investors digest global PMIs

New York (Sept 23)  Wall Street was set for a volatile, but positive open on Wednesday, with stock futures tilting higher after a mixed bag of manufacturing data from China and the eurozone.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ5, +0.13%  rose 25 points, or 0.2%, to 16,254, while those for the S&P 500 index ESZ5, +0.09%  climbed 1.65 points, or 0.1%, to 1,933.75. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NQZ5, +0.22%  added 7.75 points, or 0.2%, to 4,275 points.

Futures for all three benchmarks earlier in the morning were wrapped in red after the latest Chinese factory gauge underscored concerns about slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy. The preliminary Caixin China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to the lowest level since the financial crisis and missed analyst forecasts. Stocks ended mostly lower in Asia after the numbers, with the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -2.19%  down 2.2%.

But sentiment improved after PMIs for the eurozone missed forecasts, but still indicated the region is on a solid track to recovery. European stock markets SXXP, +0.47%  rose sharply.

“[This was] good old-fashioned overnight panic and then suddenly people don’t care anymore and are much calmer,” said Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG.

“It really repeats the pattern we’ve seen over the past months. Everything seem to be locked in a delicate balance of buyers and sellers, even more than usual. And every dip has been furiously bought, but every rally has been sold. You really get the sense that both sides are locked in a stalemate,” he added.

U.S. stock markets ended Tuesday firmly lower as a slump in commodity prices reignited fears about slowing global growth. Commodity prices bounced back on Wednesday and helped lift investor spirits, with crude oil CLX5, +0.73%  jumping closer to $47 a barrel, while metals rose almost across the board.

The ICE dollar index DXY, -0.13%  traded slightly higher on Wednesday, rising against most major rivals, according to FactSet data.

Data: On a relatively light data day, Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers index, due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, is the only major release on the docket.

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart will give a speech to the Columbus Rotary Club in Columbus, Ga., at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Lockhart is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee this year.

Across the pond, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will give his quarterly hearing before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament at 9 a.m. Eastern. Investors are waiting to hear if the weakness in China and the potential impact on the eurozone will push the ECB to launch more quantitative easing later this year.

Fear that the Chinese economy is slowing much faster than expected was a key factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision not to raise interest rates last week.

Movers and shakers: J.C. Penney Co. Inc. JCP, -1.37%  is looking for a new chief merchant to succeed Elizabeth Sweney, people familiar with the situation told The Wall Street Journal.

MetLife Inc. MET, -1.49%  late Tuesday said it will raise its stock buyback program to $1 billion, on top of $1 billion the insurer bought back in the first quarter.

Source: MarketWatch