US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open after recent declines

Thu Aug 8, 2013 9:03am EDT

* S&P 500 poised to gain after three days of losses

* No market reaction to small weekly jobless claims rise

* Spotlight on JPMorgan shares after news of U.S. criminal probe

* Tesla Motor and Groupon rally after results

* Futures up: Dow 60 pts, S&P 6.2 pts, Nasdaq 13.75 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday and a rebound from three straight days of losses, though gains may be hard to come by with few market catalysts.

Stocks are down for the week so far, pulling back from record levels on concerns the Federal Reserve will start to reduce its stimulus efforts this year as the economy recovers.

Investors shrugged off data showing U.S. weekly jobless claims rose to 333,000 in the latest week, an increase that was less than expected.

Equity markets' behavior has been closely tied to central bank policy, with many investors concerned economic growth may lose steam without the Fed's help.

The S&P 500 index fell below its 14-day moving average of 1,694.06, which had been a support level. Still, the index is up almost 19 percent in 2013.

Wall Street may struggle to return to its recent record highs, given a dearth of catalysts. Daily trading volume this week has been among the lowest this year.

Investors appear to have digested the uncertainty over the continuation of the U.S. central bank's stimulus measures.

"There are still concerns about the Fed, but I think they have largely been priced into markets," said Randy Billhardt, head of capital markets at MLV & Co in New York. "The trend of the market should remain higher."

S&P 500 futures rose 6.2 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 added 60 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 13.75 points.

JPMorgan Chase & Co will be in focus a day after the company said it faces a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department over sales of mortgage-backed securities. Shares of the Dow component were 0.7 percent lower to $54.93 in premarket trading.

Retail stocks will be in the spotlight as companies report their monthly same-store sales data. Costco Wholesale Corp's July sales came in below expectations.

Shares of Tesla Motors Inc jumped 15 percent to $154.25 in premarket trading a day after the electric car maker posted an unexpected quarterly profit. The stock has been a major momentum favorite this year, up almost 300 percent in 2013.

Groupon Inc shares soared 23.5 percent to $10.77 before the bell. On Wednesday, the online coupon company reported revenue that exceeded expectations and named its co-founder as chief executive.

Priceline.com Inc and Nvidia Corp are scheduled to report results later Thursday.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc late Wednesday reported third-quarter revenue that missed expectations, though it raised its full-year profit view. Shares fell 4.8 percent to $75.42 in premarket trading.

Of 434 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings through Wednesday morning, Thomson Reuters data showed that 66.8 percent topped analysts' expectations, in line with the 67 percent beat rate over the past four quarters. In terms of revenue, 54.1 percent beat estimates, more than in the past four quarters, but below the 61 percent average since 2002.

Overseas, shares climbed on optimism after China's July exports rose 5.1 percent, topping expectations and spurring hope the world's second-largest economy might be stabilizing after more than two years of slowing growth.