(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as investors digested a batch of mixed corporate earnings reports, jobless claims data and decision by the European Central Bank (ECB).
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 10 points to 13,933. The Nasdaq futures added 7.25 points to 2,745.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 1.50 points to 1,508.40.
The ECB, as expected, kept the benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.75 percent for the seventh consecutive month. ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press conference later in the day to explain the decision.
On the domestic economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose more than forecast last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims declined 5,000 to 366,000 for the week ended Feb. 2 from a revised 371,000, while economists projected 360,000 applications.
In other data, nonfarm business sector labor productivity fell at a 2.0 percent annual rate for the fourth quarter, also coming in worser than economists expectations of a 1.3 percent drop. Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses gained 4.5 percent, better than expectations of a rise of 3.0 percent.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended on a flat note as investors weighed a batch of mixed corporate earnings reports and awaited policy statement from ECB.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: YHOO, V, NWSA, CTSH, S, ANN, YELP
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) gained 2.52 percent in premarket. Pivotal Research upgraded the stock to Buy from Hold.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) fell 1.50 percent in premarket after the payments network posted its quarterly numbers. The company also announced a new $1.75 billion class A share buyback plan.
News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) lost 2.73 percent in premarket. The media company posted its second-quarter results and expects operating income to rise by a mid-to high- single-digit percentage for the full year.
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH) posted a jump in quarterly earnings on a double-digit growth in revenue and the IT services provider offered guidance that came in above market expectations. Shares rose 1.61 percent in premarket.
Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) posted a quarterly loss of $1.3 billion amid an increase in operating expenses and revenue growth. Net revenue beat Wall Street projections. Sprint Nextel reported losing a total of 337,000 wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter. Shares edged lower in premarket.
Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN) plunged 8.11 percent in premarket after the retailer of women's apparel slashed its sales guidance for the fourth quarter and full year, citing Hurricane Sandy and margin pressure.
Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) dropped 4.38 percent in premarket after the company posted a wider-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter as costs and expenses jumped.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.18 percent to trade at 7,593.52. France's CAC40 added 0.04 percent to trade at 3,644.82. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 dropped 0.44 percent to trade at 6,267.69.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 0.66 percent to close at 2,418.53. Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.93 percent to finish at 11,357.07. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 0.34 percent to end at 23,177. India's BSE Sensex ended 0.30 percent lower at 19,580.32.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures traded 0.21 percent higher at $96.83 per barrel. Gold futures slipped 0.23 percent to $1,675.10 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.20 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3550, and the British pound rose 0.34 percent to 1.5716. The dollar inched 0.04 percent higher against the Japanese yen at 93.6800.