US futures edge higher


New York - US stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, ahead of a flurry of economic data and the start of the meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

* Policymakers are due to discuss the labor markets of major economies at the August 21-23 meeting, with US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen scheduled to speak Friday.

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The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

Investors will peruse officials' remarks for clues on the timing of an interest rate hike.

* The S&P 500 rose for a third straight day on Wednesday, narrowly missing a record close by less than 2 points, after minutes from the Fed's July meeting led investors to believe the central bank was looking for confirmation in the labor market's recovery before raising rates.

* Investors will digest a host of economic data prior to the start of the Jackson Hole conference, with weekly initial jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (14:30 SA time).

Expectations call for claims to fall to 300,000 from the 311,000 claims in the prior week.

* At 9:45 a.m. (15:45 SA time), financial data firm Markit will release its preliminary US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index for August.

The Thomson Reuters estimate calls for a 55.7 reading versus the prior 55.8 reading in July.

* Shortly after that, at 10:00 a.m. (16:00 SA time), existing home sales for July, the Philadelphia Fed business index for August and the Conference Board's gauge of leading economic indicators will be released.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 3 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a modestly higher open.

Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 33 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 4 points.

* Bank of America gained 0.6 percent to $15.61 (R167) before the opening bell.

The bank is expected to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities the bank and its units sold ahead of the financial crisis, in a deal that could be announced as early as Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

* Hewlett-Packard Co posted a surprise increase in quarterly revenue after sales from its personal computer division climbed 12 percent, but a flat to declining performance from its other units underscored an uphill battle to revive growth.

Its shares dipped 0.3 percent to $35 in premarket trading.

* Sears Holdings shed 1.2 percent to $35.51 in light premarket trade after the owner of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain reported a ninth straight quarterly loss.

* Earnings are expected from Gap Inc, and GameStop later on Thursday.

* European shares rose, with Germany's DAX index climbing to a three-week high after a survey showed the country's private sector grew for the 16th month running in August.

* Asian shares came under pressure as a disappointing survey on Chinese manufacturing overshadowed better news from Japan. - Reuters

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