18 Oct

Bids For Thursday October 18, 2012

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New York (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock-market futures struggled to make headway Thursday, ahead of another packed earnings lineup featuring Verizon Communications Inc. and Morgan Stanley, and a big day for data, with weekly jobless claims and leading indicators among data on tap.

In addition, some observers said futures were pricing in some disappointment as a two-day European Union summit kicked off. Chinese gross-domestic-product data, meanwhile, largely met forecasts.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJZ2 +0.03%   rose 9 points to 13,498, while those for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index SPZ2 -0.14%   fell 0.1 point to 1,457.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NDZ2 -0.11%  fell 0.5 point to 2,770.

Last week, jobless claims dropped to the lowest level in more than four years. Economists polled by MarketWatch are forecasting claims rose to 365,000 from 339,000 last week. That report is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the Conference Board will release leading indicators for September, forecast at a rise of 0.2% after a dip of 0.1% in the prior month. At the same time the Philadelphia Federal Reserve index of business confidence is due out and is expected to come in flat for October. In September, the index showed contraction, but at a slower rate.

Away from data, the earnings calendar is packed. Microsoft Corp. MSFT +0.34%  is the big name investors will be waiting for Thursday, with earnings due after the close of markets.

Ahead of the bell, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ +1.45%  reported third-quarter net income rose 16%, with adjusted profit meeting Wall Street forecasts. Revenue also met forecasts at $29.01 billion.

The company confirmed its financial targets for 2012, but did not give specifics on sales of Apple Inc.’s AAPL -0.80%  iPhone 5.

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