(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as investors digested mixed housing data and earnings reports from Wal-Mart (WMT) and Cisco (CSCO).
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures added 26 points to 13,161. The Nasdaq futures rose 7.50 points to 2,746. Standard and Poor's 500 futures inched up 2.80 points to 1,406.30.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose slightly for the week ended August 11, a government data showed. Jobless claims increased 2,000 to 366,000 last week from a revised 364,000 in the previous week, also coming in above economists expectations of 365,000 applications.
Meanwhile, housing starts in the United States fell 1.1 percent to 746,000 for July, while permits for future building construction rose 6.8 percent to 812,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists expected housing starts at 757,000 and building permits of 770,000. In June, housing starts and building permits were revised to 754,000 and 760,000, respectively.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed on a flat note as investors weighed a set of domestic economic data and earnings reports that presented a mixed picture of the economy.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: WMT, CSCO, DLTR, SHLD, A, NTAP, FB, PLCE
In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) shed 2.28 percent in premarket after the world's largest retail chain store operator posted quarterly sales that fell short of market expectations.
Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) surged 7.38 percent in premarket after the networking company posted a jump in quarterly earnings on strong sales growth and lower expenses. Fourth-quarter results exceeded Wall Street expectations.
Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR) lost 6.10 percent in premarket after the operator of discount variety stores forecast third-quarter earnings and revenue below market expectations.
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A) tumbled 7.11 percent in premarket after the electronic measurement services company posted weak third-quarter results and issued a downbeat forecast for the fourth quarter amid softness in orders.
NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) gained 2.49 percent in premarket after the Sunnyvale, California-based data storage company posted first-quarter earnings that beat market expectations. The company also guided earnings and revenue for the second quarter.
Sears Holdings Corp.(NASDAQ:SHLD) added 3.53 percent in premarket after the retailer reported a narrower quarterly loss due to lower selling and administrative expenses as well as an improvement in gross margin rate.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) dropped 2.45 percent in premarket as lockup period that prevented some insider sales expires today.
Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCE) advanced 4.91 percent after the Secaucus, New Jersey-based company reported a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss amid sales growth and forecast margin expansion for the full year. It posted a wider loss for the second quarter as margins contracted due to increase in costs for spring and summer merchandise.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.10 percent to trade at 6,953.79. France's CAC40 dipped 0.14 percent to 3,444.42. U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.24 percent to trade at 5,818.78.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index shed 0.32 percent to finish at 2,112.20. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.88 percent to end at 9,092.76. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.45 percent to end at 19,962.95. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,657.21, down 0.40 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures inched up 0.15 percent to $94.47 per barrel. Gold futures edged 0.11 percent lower to $1,604.8 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.21 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2316 and the British pound added 0.29 percent to 1.5729. The dollar gained 0.35 percent against the Japanese yen to 79.2700.