China Data, Earnings Lift Stock Futures


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A report pointing to a slowing in the decline in Chinese economic activity and strong earnings from two blue-chip companies sent stock-index futures higher after a steep selloff in the last session.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:05 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 36 points to 13077, S&P 500 futures rose 5 points to 1412 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.3 points to 2669.

The Dow skidded 243 points Tuesday in its third-biggest decline of the year. The blue-chip average now trades at its lowest level since early September.

Trading desks got a sliver of good news out of Asia to kick the session off. The HSBC PMI gauge rose to 49.1 in October from 47.9 the month before. That suggests the manufacturing sector in the world's second-biggest economy continues contracting, but at a slowing pace. Still, Hongbin Qu, the bank's chief economist for China, struck a cautious note.

"External challenges are still abound and the pressures on job market are lingering," he said in a statement accompanying the report. "This calls for a continuation of policy easing in the coming months to secure a firmer growth recovery."

Earnings Season Marches On

Earnings from Boeing (NYSE:BA) and AT&T (NYSE:T) that topped expectations on the bottom lines also helped boost sentiment.

Boeing’s third-quarter profit of $1.35 a share topped expectations of $1.13 a share. Revenues of $20 billion came in line with Wall Street’s forecast. The aerospace giant also raised its full-year guidance to between $4.80 and $4.95 a share, compared to estimates of $4.73 a share.

AT&T posted an adjusted third-quarter profit of 62 cents a share, beating expectations of 60 cents. Sales came in at $31.5 billion, slightly shy of expectations of $31.6 billion.

European Data Still Grim; U.S. Housing Data, Fed Statement on Tap

Counterbalancing that news, however, were several weak reports from Europe. Economic activity in the eurozone shrunk at the fastest pace in October since June 2009, according to a report by Markit. In particular, activity in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, contracted at the swiftest gate in two months, according to another report by Markit.

"The setbacks in the manufacturing sector are indeed worrying, as it generally leads the services sector," analysts at Nomura wrote in a note to clients.

A closely-watched survey of German business sentiment from the Ifo Institute also came in short of expectations.

Later in the day, traders will get a read on sales of new, single-family homes. The gauge is forecast to have climbed to an annualized rate of 385,000 units in September from 373,000 the month before. The Federal Reserve also releases its monetary policy statement at 2:15 p.m. ET. The central bank unveiled QE3, a major quantitative easing program, last month, as is expected to hold off from any new action this month.

Commodities climbed after tumbling in the last session. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York rose 11 cents, or 0.13%, to $86.78 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.71% to $2.623 a gallon.

In metals, gold fell 70 cents, or 0.04%, to $1,709 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.56% to 2492, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.25% to 5812 and the German DAX climbed 0.32% to 7197.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.67% to 8954 and the Chinese Hang Seng ticked up by 0.31% to 21764.