Futures edge higher after Morgan Stanley results

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Bullish global economic signals and gains for Morgan Stanley drove a rise in U.S. stock futures on Thursday, a day after the Dow extended a new year rally to close above 26,000 for the first time.

Morgan Stanley wrapped up earnings season for the big U.S. banks with a better-than-expected profit, sending its shares up 1.43 percent in premarket trading.

More than three-quarters of the 36 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped earnings estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Strong data from China, which showed its economic growth accelerated for the first time in seven years, put world stocks on a firm footing.

At 7:05 a.m. ET (1205 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 37 points, or 0.14 percent, with 31,283 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.25 points, or 0.12 percent, with 124,838 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.02 percent, on volume of 30,884 contracts.

Republican leaders of the U.S. Congress were speeding up to get the votes needed to pass a temporary extension in government funding and avert a shutdown looming at the end of this week.

The government is operating on its third temporary funding extension since the 2018 fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

Economic data includes report on December housing starts, which is expected to fall to 1.275 million units from a reading of 1.297 million units in November.

Initial jobless claims are expected to have fallen 11,000 to 250,000 for the week ended Jan. 13. The two reports are due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday the U.S. economy and inflation expanded at a modest-to-moderate pace from late November through the end of 2017, while wages continued to push higher.

Alcoa fell about 6 percent after the aluminum producer's quarterly earnings missed estimates as a drought in Brazil hit bauxite production and higher power prices in Spain boosted expenses.

IBM and American Express are expected to report after market close. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)