* 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 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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.