for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Airlines

US STOCKS -Market set to edge higher; financials eyed

* Futures point to small rebound after Wednesday’s drop

* Jobless claims decline briefly pushes futures higher

* Health insurers poised to drop

NEW YORK, June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Thursday, suggesting the market may rebound from sharp declines on Wednesday when the Dow slipped to its lowest close in three months.

Futures briefly touched a session high after data showed the number of U.S. workers filing new jobless benefits claims fell by 5,000 last week.

Investors are paying close attention to economic indicators ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate setting meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

“The big thing we’re concerned about right now is they want the numbers that are good enough so you don’t fall into a recession, but at the same time, you want the numbers to be weak enough so it’s unlikely to have the Fed raising (rates),” said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

The other main economic report on tap for Thursday is the June reading of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business index, due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) The Philly Fed is expected to have risen to -10 in June from -15.6 in May.

Financials may come under close watch after Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney cut her 2008 and 2009 fiscal year earnings per share outlook on Morgan Stanley MS.N. Meanwhile, Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Richard Bove cut his 2008 earnings per share outlook on Fifth Third Bancorp FITB.O.

Wednesday's sharp declines in the banking sector and a grim outlook on the economy from FedEx FDX.N briefly pushed the Dow below 12,000 for the first time since March 18, when the market was reeling from the collapse of Bear Stearns.

On the positive side, shares of Wachovia Corp rose before Thursday's opening bell after the Wall Street Journal reported the bank has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs GS.N to advise on strategy and help in its search for a new chief executive [ID:nN19325906]. In addition, theflyonthewall.com reported Deutsche Bank said the bank will not have to raise more capital in the near-term [ID:nWNA6121].

Wachovia’s stock was up 2 percent at $17.22 in pre-market trading.

S&P 500 futures SPc2 were up 2.7 points, above fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures DJc2 rose 29 points, while Nasdaq 100 NDc2 futures fell 9.5 point.

Health insurers are poised to drop after Coventry Health Care CVH.N cut its second-quarter and 2008 earnings per share outlooks late on Wednesday. Coventry shares sank more than 20 percent to $31.84 in pre-market trading before the bell, while shares of rival Aetna AET.N dropped 4.4 percent to $40.74 and UnitedHealth Group UNH.N fell 11.2 percent to $26.85.

The sole S&P 500 company set to report earnings is cruise line operator Carnival Corp CCL.N. (Reporting by Jennifer Coogan; Editing by Jan Paschal)

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up