Stock futures edge higher on China optimism


Stock futures rose on Wednesday after comments from China's new leader boosted global growth expectations.

Still, some earlier gains were trimmed after data showed U.S. private-sector employers added 118,000 jobs in November, shy of economists' expectations.

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Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said the country would maintain its fine-tuning of economic policies in 2013 to ensure stable economic growth. That sparked a rally in Chinese shares, with the Shanghai Composite Index surging 2.9 percent.

Among his key priorities, Xi listed tax reform, urbanization and allowing the market to play a bigger role in setting resource prices.

"Investors' bullish receptors were earlier tickled by overnight events in China, where the new leadership announced a drive towards 'urbanization', which means more infrastructure investment," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

"At the same time, rules preventing insurance companies from taking a larger stake in banking companies were relaxed."

Other data due later in the day include factory orders and ISM's November non-manufacturing index, both at 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).

Nokia is to partner with China Mobile <0941.HK>, the world's biggest operator, to launch a version of its flagship Lumia smartphone tailored for the world's largest market. U.S.-listed shares of Nokia rose 4.1 percent to $3.58 in premarket trading.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 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 rose 41 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 1 point.

Repsol filed a U.S. lawsuit to block Chevron Corp's deal with Argentina's YPF , ramping up the Spanish oil company's legal response to the loss of its assets in Argentina.

Pandora Media Inc lowered its fourth-quarter earnings forecast, blaming a pull-back by advertisers on concerns about the U.S. budget, but analysts suggested it was due more to increasing competition.

The U.S. Senate voted 98-0 on Tuesday to approve a wide-ranging defense bill that authorizes $631.4 billion in funding for the U.S. military, the war in Afghanistan and nuclear weapons.

Walt Disney gave a much needed boost to Netflix , becoming the first major Hollywood studio to use the video service to bypass premium channels like HBO that traditionally controlled the delivery of movies to TV subscribers.

The U.S. securities regulator is investigating a $10 million stock sale in March by Steven Fishman, chief executive of close-out retailer Big Lots Inc , who announced his retirement on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the inquiry.

U.S. stocks finished slightly lower in quiet trading Tuesday as the back-and-forth wrangling over the U.S. budget gave investors little reason to act.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)