NEW YORK – Stocks were poised for a higher open on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may rebound from its worst five-day slide in five months, on optimism the economies of both the U.S. and China may be recovering.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said China's factory output should grow faster in the last three months of 2012 than in the third quarter, raising hopes the world's second largest economy may avoid a hard landing to its slowdown.
Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 23,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 369,000, giving a clearer sign that the labor market is healing after wild fluctuations in claims data earlier in the month.
Separately, a gauge of planned U.S. business spending was flat in September, a sign that heightened uncertainty is weighing on factories, but new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods increased during the month.
The benchmark S&P index has shed 3.6 percent over the last five sessions, its worst performance since mid-May, and is down 3.9 percent from its closing high of September 14, amid weak earnings outlooks and top-line revenue misses by large multinational companies.
"The selloff has been about earnings, the next couple of weeks are still going to be about earnings and there is some concern about revenue - the first thing you have to do is stop going down so maybe that is what we've done right here today," said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.
"The data is good, it's definitely looking the right way and any news out of China helps too. They are a concern so any news that they are looking better is good for us, too."
Procter & Gamble Co rose 2.3 percent to $69.65 in premarket trading after it reported a quarterly profit and maintained its key earnings forecast for the year as the world's largest household products maker cut costs and narrowed its focus on key markets, products and countries.
Procter's smaller rival Colgate-Palmolive Co reported improved quarterly profit as the toothpaste and soap maker spent a bit more on advertising to entice shoppers after raising prices.
Sprint Nextel Corp climbed 1.4 percent to $5.70 in premarket trading after reporting a wider loss in the third quarter but promised better-than-expected 2012 adjusted operating income.
A total of 56 S&P 500 companies are due to report earnings on Thursday, according to Thomson Reuters data, including Apple , Amazon and Eastman Chemical Co .
S&P 500 futures rose 7.7 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 51 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 17.5 points.
With results in from 186 of the S&P 500 companies, 59.1 percent have beat analysts' expectations, below the 62 percent long-term average, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Revenue figures have been more disappointing, with just 38.2 percent of companies exceeding analysts' expectations, while 61.8 percent have fallen short. In a typical quarter, 62 percent of companies beat estimates.
At 10:00 a.m., pending home sales for September is due, which investors will peruse for signs of continued improvement in the housing market. Analysts surveyed by Reuters expect a 2.1 percent increase compared with a 2.6 percent drop in the previous month.
Dunkin Brands Group Inc gained 3 percent to $31.74 in premarket trading after reporting third-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations and boosting its full-year earnings outlook.
PSSI World Medical Inc jumped 32.3 percent to $28.58 in premarket after McKesson Corp said it would acquire the company for $29 a share, or $1.46 billion.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)