US stocks gain on China rate cut


U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday after China surprised the market with another interest rate cut, but gains were kept in check as investors awaited a rate decision by the European Central Bank.

* Futures, which were trading flat, turned higher on news that China was cutting its benchmark deposit rate by 25 basis points and its lending rate by 31 basis points.

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* The Bank of England announced that it would keep its bank rate steady at 0.5 percent and expand its quantitative easing program by 50 billion pounds, as expected.

* The European Central Bank is widely expected to cut borrowing costs to a record low to support a deteriorating euro zone economy and complement measures agreed by government leaders last week to tackle the bloc's debt crisis. The rate decision is due at 7:45 a.m. ET (1145 GMT) followed by a news conference at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT)

* S&P 500 futures were up 3.5 points and were slightly higher than 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 were up 18 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.5 points.

* The ADP private-sector employment report for June is due for release at 8:15 a.m. ET (1215 GMT), and is expected to show that 105,000 jobs were created in June versus 133,000 new jobs in May.

* The Labor Dept. releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended June 30 at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), with new filings seen at 385,000 compared with 386,000 in the prior week.

* The Institute for Supply Management releases its June non-manufacturing sector report at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT), with the main index seen at 53.0 versus 53.7 in May.

* General Motors Co, frustrated with years of slipping market share in Brazil, is overhauling half its lineup in order to grow faster than its rapidly multiplying rivals, a senior country executive told Reuters in an interview.

* U.S. buyout fund Carlyle Group LP said on Thursday that it has acquired 49 percent of China's Mandarin Hotel Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed sum, giving it control of the company.

* U.S. stocks, which were closed for Independence Day on Wednesday, rallied in the previous three sessions as sharp gains in oil prices lifted energy shares and traders factored in increased expectations for central bank stimulus. -Reuters

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