Stock futures up ahead of durable goods, jobless data

Thu May 24, 2012 8:15am EDT
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By Angela Moon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures edged higher on Thursday as investors were hopeful that data on durable goods orders and initial jobless claims will show the world's largest economy is on the right track to recovery.

But trading was expected to be volatile as regional data out of Europe showed some deterioration in economic activity and investors remained concerned about Greece's possible exit from the euro zone.

The Labor Department releases first-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended May 19 at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 370,000 new filings, a repeat of last week's figures.

The Commerce Department releases April durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. EDT, expected to show a 0.5 percent rise in April compared with a 4.0 percent fall in March.

"The market is not withstanding the negative sentiment and headlines out of Europe," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"There are some technical factors coming into play here and also the soft patch in recent economic data has leveled off and stabilized."

Surveys showed Europe's major economies suffered a contraction in their manufacturing activities and the German business climate deteriorated.

EU leaders, advised by senior officials to prepare contingency plans in case Greece decides to quit the euro currency, said late on Wednesday they were committed to Greece remaining in the euro zone but urged the country to complete the reforms demanded under its bailout program.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid