Dow seen opening higher ahead of economic data, Wal-Mart in focus
U.S. equity markets looked set to open higher Thursday ahead of economic data and speeches from key Federal Reserve officials.
In pre-market trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21 points to 12,565.15, the S&P 500 gained 4.1 points to 1,357.10 and the NASDAQ added 6.25 points to 2,535.75.
Wednesday U.S. markets ended in the red with the Dow down 1.45%, the S&P 500 1.39% lower and the NASDAQ ended the session down 1.29%.
Fiscal cliff fears still remain a heightened concern for market participants. Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he was open to revenue-raising ideas, but stood firm on his insistence that there be higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
The eurozone officially slipped into recession in the third quarter, as official figures showed growth among the 17 euro countries shrinking 0.1%, the second recession in the area since 2009.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to deliver remarks on the housing market at an event in Atlanta. Regional Fed presidents Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond, Charles Evans of Chicago, Richard Fisher of Dallas and Charles Plosser of Philadelphia are also scheduled to give speeches Thursday.
In corporate news, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) said Thursday third-quarter profits rose 9% to $3.64 billion, or $1.08 a share, from $3.34 billion, or 96 cents per share year earlier. Sales rose 3.4% to $113.2 billion.
Wall Street analysts expected the discount retailer to earn $1.07 per share on sales of $114 billion, according to FactSet.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares rose more than 12% Wednesday even though more than 800 millions shares became available to be sold. Like many initial public offerings, Facebook's May debut included a "lockup" agreement that requires some shareholders from selling for a certain period.
On the economic front, initial jobless claims are expected to show 388,000 people filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week. But the data has recently been distorted by Superstorm Sandy.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index is expected to show inflation remained tame in October, ticking up 0.1% during the month.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will release its monthly manufacturing survey at 10 am EDT.
On the NYMEX, crude for December delivery fell 7 cents to $86.25 a barrel while gold futures for December delivery fell $5.80 to $1,724.30 an ounce.
European stocks were lower with the FTSE 100 shedding 0.4%, the DAX losing 0.5% and the CAC 40 falling 0.2%.