(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a mixed opening on the Wall Street as investors continue to eye talks in Washington over a deal to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" and digested an upbeat manufacturing data from China.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 12 points to 13,099. The Nasdaq futures lost 6.25 points to 2,641. Standard and Poor's 500 futures inched up 0.10 points to 1,412.10.
China's manufacturing activity climbed to a 14-month high of 50.9 in December, data released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed. A level above 50 indicates expansion.
On the U.S. data front, a report showed that core consumer price index inched up 0.1 percent in November, while the headline index fell 0.3 percent. Economists expected the core reading to rise 0.2 percent and the headline index to drop 0.2 percent.
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The Federal Reserve's industrial production report is set to be released at 9:15 a.m. ET, with expectations of a 0.3 percent rise in November output.
President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner reportedly held "frank" talks on Thursday to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of steep tax increases and spending cuts. Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to avert the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks closed in red as continued uncertainty about the looming "fiscal cliff" offset a set of positive economic data.
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In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) fell 2.77 percent in premarket. A federal jury has found the technology behemoth infringed on three patents held by a patent licensing firm partly owned by Nokia and Sony Corp. of America.
Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) jumped 5.69 percent in premarket after the software company reported stronger-than-forecast earnings and revenue for the fourth quarter as operating expenses fell.
VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) retreated 7.16 percent in premarket after electronic payment technology provider offered a downbeat earnings outlook for the first quarter.
Centene Corp. (NYSE: CNC) lost 9.94 percent after the St. Louis, Missouri-based multiline healthcare company sharply slashed its earnings outlook for full year 2012, citing an increase in medical costs.
Nordson Corp. (NASDAQ: NDSN) gained 1.66 percent in premarket after the company posted higher fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped market expectations.
Quiksilver Inc. (NYSE: ZQK) may be in focus after the apparel and footwear designer posted weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and sales amid contraction of margins.
ISIS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ISIS) tumbled 8.43 percent in premarket after an European Committee recommended the refusal of the marketing authorization for its lead product Kynamro intended to treat high blood cholesterol levels, citing saftety concerns.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.17 percent to trade at 7,594.62. France's CAC40 fell 0.18 percent to trade at 3,637. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 0.17 percent to trade at 5,919.57.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index jumped 4.32 percent to finish at 2,150.62. Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.05 percent to close at 9,737.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.71 percent to end at 22,605.98. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,317.25, up 0.46 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.64 percent to $86.44 per barrel. Gold futures dipped 0.05 percent to $1,696.30 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro fell 0.02 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3074, while the British pound inched 0.04 percent higher to 1.6118. The dollar slid 0.11 percent against the Japanese yen to 83.5600.