* GDP, claims data beat expectations
* China Mobile signs deal with Apple - report
* Aeropostale tumbles on forecast
* Futures: Dow down 54 pts, S&P down 5.5 pts, Nasdaq up 0.5
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 5 U.S. stocks were set to open
lower on Thursday, as investors ruminated over whether healthy
data on the labor market and economic growth may prompt the
Federal Reserve to accelerate its timetable to wind down its
Gross domestic product grew at an annualized 3.6 percent in
the third quarter, the fastest pace since the first quarter of
2012, instead of the 2.8 percent pace reported earlier.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth would be
revised up to 3.0 percent.
But the strong inventory accumulation in the face of a
slowdown in domestic demand means businesses will need to draw
down on stocks, which will weigh on GDP growth this quarter.
"The big top line number probably will be looked at very
carefully and probably not create as big a market reaction as
one would expect from the size of the adjustment," said Fred
Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. Lake
"On the surface it looks good, underneath, not quite so
In addition, data showed initial claims for state
unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted
298,000, declining for a third straight week, and below
expectations of a rise to 325,000.
The S&P 500 has fallen for four straight sessions,
shedding 0.8 percent, its longest losing streak since late
September as recent economic data has cast some uncertainty over
when the Federal Reserve will begin to trim its stimulus of $85
billion in monthly bond purchases.
Futures had modestly gained before the data, only to turn
negative after the reports were released.
Many market participants expect the Fed to announce a cut in
March. The Fed has said it would slow its stimulus program when
certain economic measures meet its targets, including a decline
in the U.S. unemployment rate.
S&P 500 futures lost 5.5 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 fell 54
points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.5 point.
Later in the session at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT), October
factory orders data is expected. Economists surveyed by Reuters
expect a drop of 1.0 percent compared with a 1.7 percent rise in
China Mobile Ltd, the country's largest mobile
operator, has signed a long-awaited deal with Apple Inc
to offer iPhones on its network, the Wall Street Journal
reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous source familiar with
the matter. Apple shares gained 1.4 percent to $573 in premarket
Aeropostale Inc slumped 4.6 percent to $8.93 before
the opening bell after the apparel retailer forecast a much
bigger-than-expected loss for the holiday shopping quarter.
Dollar General Corp gained 3.8 percent to $58.50
before the opening bell after posting third quarter earnings.
General Growth Properties Inc advanced 4.5 percent
to $21.20 in premarket trade. Standard and Poor's said the
company will replace Molex Inc in the S&P 500 after the
close of trading on Dec. 9.