Stock Futures Hold Gains Amid Mixed Data

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U.S. stock-index futures climbed mildly on Thursday as traders reviewed mixed data on the American economy.

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As of 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 18 points, or 0.11%, to 16646, S&P 500 futures advanced 2 points, or 0.1%, to 1911 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 2 points, or 0.05%, to 3718.

Equities have wavered around record highs in somewhat quiet action in recent sessions. The flow of economic data is set to pick up on Thursday, however.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy shrunk at an annual rate of 1% in the first quarter, more than the 0.5% contraction economists were expecting. The number was revised down from a previous reading that showed a slight expansion for the world’s biggest economy. The decline in the first three months of the year is the first negative reading since the first quarter of 2011 when it fell 1.3%.

Economists have broadly discounted this number already since the first three months of the year were adversely affected by unusually harsh winter weather. The rate of expansion is expected to pick up to around 3% by the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell to 300,000 last week from an upwardly revised 327,000 the week prior. Wall Street expected claims to fall to 318,000 from an initially reported 326,000.

Finally, a report from the National Association of Realtors on pending home sales is expected to show signed contracts to buy previously-owned homes rose 1% in April from the month prior. The gauge is seen as a forward-looking indicator that can predict existing home sales to some extent.

In corporate news, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it would buy music streaming and hardware company Beats Music in a deal valued at up to $3 billion. Dish (NASDAQ:DISH) said it will start allowing companies to pay bills using controversial crypto-currency bitcoin. Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) to "buy" from "hold" and maintained its $40 a share price target.

Elsewhere, U.S. stock-index futures rose 4 cents, or 0.04%, to $102.75 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.31% to $3.015 a gallon. Gold dipped $6.20, or 0.49%, to $1,254 a troy ounce.

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