US STOCKS-China, Europe manufacturing data help lift futures

Thu Aug 1, 2013 8:08am EDT

* China and euro zone manufacturing show improvement

* Initial jobless claims, ISM manufacturing data due

* Procter & Gamble gains after results, outlook

* Futures up: Dow 114 pts, S&P 12 pts, Nasdaq 20.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, after economic data in Europe and China boosted hopes for the global economy and kept alive expectations for continued economic support from global central banks.

China's official PMI for manufacturing rose to 50.3 in July, above expectations it would fall to 49.9 from 50.1 in June, suggesting a pick up in activity as growth in new orders increased.

Adding to the optimism, Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to 50.3 in July from June's 48.8, revised slightly higher from a preliminary reading of 50.1 and topping the 50 threshold for growth for the first time since July 2011.

But a rival HSBC report on China's manufacturing was much more gloomy, falling to 47.7 in July, the weakest reading since August 2012, from 48.2 in June and tempered growth expectations.

The data pointed to modest global growth and served to keep intact expectations global central banks will retain policies designed to stimulate their respective economies.

"After a choppy and erratic session yesterday, failing to break above 1,700, the market is taking some positive China data along with leads from Europe to put on an impressive early morning session," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

In its latest policy statement on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve gave no hint that a reduction in the pace of its bond-buying program was imminent, as the economy continues to recover but is still in need of support.

S&P 500 futures rose 12 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 114 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 20.75 points.

Weekly initial jobless claims numbers are due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 345,000 new filings, compared with 343,000 in the prior week.

At 8:58 a.m. (1258 GMT), Markit releases its U.S. final Markit Manufacturing PMI for July. The index read 53.2 in the flash July report. Later in the session, at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT), the Institute for Supply Management releases its July manufacturing index and the Commerce Department releases June construction spending data.

The Bank of England made no changes at its second policy meeting Thursday under its new governor, Mark Carney, keeping interest rates at 0.5 percent and leaving its bond-buying program on ice.

The European Central Bank also left interest rates at a record low 0.5 percent, with President Mario Draghi expected to emphasize rates will stay at record lows for an extended period at his news conference, which starts at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT).

The benchmark S&P index has traded within 10 points of the 1,700 level for 10 straight sessions, representing a technical resistance level which could lead to more gains if significantly pierced.

Procter & Gamble Co rose 1.4 percent to $81.40 in premarket after the world's largest household products maker posted a quarterly profit that fell less than expected and said full-year's earnings should rise at least as much as last year.

Yelp Inc jumped 12.4 percent to $46.99 in premarket trade after the consumer reviews website posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and forecast third-quarter revenue above analysts' expectations.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, Of the 331 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date for the second quarter, 67.7 percent have reported earnings above analyst expectations.

As earnings season begins to enter its latter stages, 40 companies in the S&P 500 are expected to report earnings on Thursday, including Kraft Foods Group Inc after the close.

J.C. Penney Co climbed 4.5 percent to $15.26 before the opening bell after the department-store operator said a media report about commercial lender CIT Group stopping funding to its suppliers are untrue, as it has been told so directly by the lender.