Stock index futures up on China optimism; data, earnings eyed


Stock index futures rose on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may rebound from its worst five-day slide in five months, on optimism China's economy may be recovering and ahead of a flurry of economic data and corporate earnings.

* Procter & Gamble Co posted a quarterly profit and maintained its key earnings forecast for the year as the world's largest household products maker cut costs and narrowed its focus on key markets, products and countries.

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* Procter's smaller rival Colgate-Palmolive Co reported improved quarterly profit as the toothpaste and soap maker spent a bit more on advertising to entice shoppers after raising prices.

* Sprint Nextel Corp posted a wider loss in the third quarter as it spent heavily on a network upgrade and lost customers from its iDen network, which it is shutting down. Shares advanced 0.7 percent to $5.66 in premarket trading.

* A total of 56 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, including Apple , Amazon , ConocoPhillips and Eastman Chemical Co .

* The benchmark S&P index has shed 3.6 percent over the last five sessions, its worst performance since mid-May, and is down 3.9 percent from its closing high of September 14, amid weak earnings outlooks and top-line revenue misses by large multinational companies.

* Aetna Inc , the third-largest U.S. health insurer, reported a higher quarterly profit that beat expectations, saying it had reached its 2012 goal of 18.2 million members ahead of schedule and kept costs down.

* European stocks edged higher, led by miners, after China said factory output was set to accelerate, but profit warnings hit WPP and Daimler.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)