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U.S. stock-index futures held on to modest gains as traders digested two disappointing reports on the economy.
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As of 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 28 points to 15319, S&P 500 futures gained 4.5 points to 1652 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 4.5 points to 3001.
It's been a manic week for Wall Street. Strong data ignited a rally Tuesday, but then fears that an accelerating recovery will cause the Federal Reserve to slow its easing program sparked an equally large selloff Wednesday.
The Nikkei 225, Japan's benchmark stock-market index, plunged 5.2% overnight and entered a technical correction, meaning it has fallen 10% from a recent high. Markets there have been driven by central bank headlines as well, with the Bank of Japan initiating a massive easing program aimed at escaping the country's painful deflation.
The focus is expected to stay on the economy, with three key reports due out.
A second reading on U.S. gross domestic from the Commerce Department product showed the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.4% in the first quarter, down slightly from an initial estimate and Wall Street’s forecast of 2.5% growth.
The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits rose to 354,000 last week from an upwardly revised 344,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to hold steady from an initially-reported 340,000.
Later, at 10:00 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors releases its reading on pending home sales for the month of April. The indicator that tracks pending contracts to buy previously-owned homes is expected to have climbed 1.1% on a month-to-month basis. The housing market has been cited as a bright spot in the overall economic recovery as the Fed has pushed down short and long-term interest rates.
In commodities, oil and gasoline futures pointed lower. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract fell 55 cents, or 0.59%, to $92.58 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.54% to $2.788 a gallon. In metals, gold advanced $7.30, or 0.53%, to $1,399 a troy ounce.
On the corporate front, private-equity heavyweight KKR (NYSE:KKR) said it hired former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus to run its newly created KKR Global Institute.
The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 0.8% to 2809, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.38% to 6652 and the German DAX surged 1.2% to 8481.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 plunged 5.2% to 13589 and the Chinese Hang Seng slipped 0.31% to 22484.