US STOCKS-Wall St to open lower after China data, earnings

Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:08am EST

* Netflix jumps after earnings

* eBay rises after results, Icahn spin-off proposal

* Initial claims data in line with expectations

* Futures off: Dow 103 pts, S&P 9 pts, Nasdaq 14.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open lower on Thursday, after disappointing manufacturing data in China and the latest round of corporate earnings failed to provide investors the impetus to push equities higher.

* Investor sentiment was dented by a report on manufacturing in China, as the flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index fell in January from the prior month, suggesting that a mild slowdown at the end of 2013 in the world's second-largest economy had continued into the new year.

* McDonald's Corp's reported weaker-than-expected revenue as fewer customers ate at its restaurants, and global sales fell 0.1 percent at established restaurants in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Its shares dipped 0.4 percent to $94.50 in premarket trading.

* But Netflix Inc shares surged 16.9 percent to $390 before the opening bell. The world's largest video-streaming company's quarterly earnings late Wednesday showed it added more than 2.3 million U.S. customers in the fourth quarter.

* Labor market data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, as expected, while claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

* eBay Inc climbed 2.6 percent to $55.80 in premarket trading. The e-commerce giant reported earnings a day earlier and said activist investor Carl Icahn had submitted a proposal to spin off its PayPal business, a plan the company dismissed.

* Earnings are expected from 21 S&P 500 companies on Thursday, including Microsoft Corp and Starbucks Corp after the close.

* According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to grow 7.2 percent over the prior year. Of the 80 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported, 61.3 percent beat expectations, below the long-term average of 63 percent, and the 67 percent average over the past four quarters.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 9 points and were below 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 lost 103 points and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 14.75 points.

* Existing home sales data for December is expected at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). Sales are expected to climb slightly to 4.94 million against 4.9 million in the prior month.

* Lenovo Group Ltd has agreed to buy IBM Corp's server business for $2.3 billion as the Chinese PC giant grabs another piece of the computing world in a long-awaited deal.

* Top U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp reported lower-than-expected earnings after charges linked to U.S. defense budget cuts and workforce reductions, but said it expected higher earnings this year.

* Union Pacific Corp reported a bigger quarterly profit on Thursday as the railroad raised prices and saw demand in overall shipments grow. Its shares gained 2.1 percent to $172 before the opening bell.