* China data shows improvement in manufacturing
* Weekly jobless claims, Markit manufacturing data on tap
* 47 S&P 500 companies scheduled to report earnings
* Futures up: Dow 67 pts, S&P 6.4 pts, Nasdaq 11.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 will rebound from its first decline in the last six sessions, ahead of labor market and manufacturing data and a slew of corporate earnings.
Economic data on China’s giant manufacturing sector helped boost investor sentiment, with the preliminary flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers Index showing a 50.9 reading in October, above September’s final reading of 50.2 and marking a seven-month high.
Investors will eye weekly U.S. initial jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) for signs of improvement after the recent disappointing payrolls report. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 340,000 new filings compared with 358,000 in the prior week.
The U.S. flash Markit Manufacturing PMI for October will be released at 8:58 a.m. (1258 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a reading of 52.5 compared with a final September level of 52.8.
With a mixed bag of corporate earnings so far, investors will likely push the equity market higher on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue its stimulus measures, which have propped up the equity market and economy for much of the year.
The S&P 500 has risen 1.4 percent since politicians in Washington ended a stalemate Oct. 16 to avoid a debt default and end a partial government shutdown, but the damage to the economy has led investors to expect the Fed to delay scaling back its stimulus for several months.
Corporate earnings continue to pour in, with 47 S&P 500 components expected to report Thursday, including Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc after the close.
“The earnings picture was not supposed to be that great this quarter and in fact we are seeing that. The thing that is disappointing is top-line revenue and those are not good signs,” said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
“So what is going to drive the market from that point is going to be Washington policy and Fed policy.”
S&P 500 futures rose 6.4 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 67 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 11.75 points.
U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as shares of heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar and semiconductor companies tumbled after they reported earnings, ending the S&P 500’s four-session streak of record high finishes.
Dow component 3M Co reported a 6 percent rise in quarterly profit due to higher sales across all its businesses.
Ford Motor Co rose 3.9 percent to $18.20 in premarket trade after the second-largest U.S. automaker reported higher-than-expected third-quarter profit and boosted its full-year global earnings outlook.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, of the 160 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 66.3 percent have topped Wall Street expectations, above the 63 percent beat rate since 1994 and roughly in line with the 66 percent rate over the past four quarters.
On a revenue basis, 53.8 percent of reporting companies have beaten analysts’ expectations, below the 61 percent beat rate since 2002 but above the 49 percent rate for the past four quarters.
Mining and auto stocks lifted European shares on Thursday after encouraging manufacturing data from big consumer China, but mixed earnings from companies trading on high valuations capped gains.
Chinese shares slipped in volatile trade as a further spike in China’s money-market rates tempered the effect of the manufacturing data.