By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch
FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock-index futures posted modest gains early Thursday, as traders awaited data on jobless claims for more clues about the state of the American labor market.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 36 points to 10,428 and S&P 500 futures rose 4.20 points to 1,103.50. Nasdaq 100 futures added 7 points to 1,884.50.
The blue-chip Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,387, +46.32, +0.45%) rose 0.5% on Wednesday, as gains were limited by the Federal Reserve's confirmation that the American economy is slowing.
The Fed said in its Beige Book report that U.S. growth slowed over the summer, with some sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing, holding up better than others. The biggest weaknesses were in real estate and construction.
"The overall tone of the Beige Book was not too dissimilar to the economic data we've witnessed over the past month or so," said Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank.
U.S. officials meet Chinese president
Chinese President Hu Jintao met with top White House officials in a bid to smooth tensions between the two countries. Video courtesy of Reuters.
"Today the market will get an important labor market update from the weekly jobless claims report," Reid said in a note to clients. "Markets are forecasting a third consecutive weekly decline in initial claims."
Data on U.S. weekly jobless claims and international trade for July will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
In Paris, Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that the slowdown in the global economic recovery is "somewhat more pronounced than previously anticipated."
Bank of England stays on hold
The Bank of England left its key lending rate unchanged at a record low 0.5% and maintained its 200 billion pound ($309 billion) asset-purchase program on pause. Both moves were widely expected.
Also in London, the U.K.'s financial-services watchdog said it has fined Goldman Sachs Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 147.54, +2.33, +1.60%) 17.5 million pounds ($27 million) for failing to disclose a U.S. fraud probe that encompassed the firm's British operations. See more on Goldman fine.
European stocks posted gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 264.51, +2.18, +0.83%) rising 0.5% in afternoon trading. Ireland's government successfully conducted a bond auction.
Shares of ARM Holdings /quotes/comstock/15*!armh/quotes/nls/armh (ARMH 18.09, +1.24, +7.36%) (UK:ARM 408.70, +21.00, +5.42%) surged 5% in London trading after the firm unveiled a new high-end core processor.
Shares of Barry Callebaut AG /quotes/comstock/22a!barn (CH:BARN 745.00, +41.50, +5.90%) rallied 6% after the Swiss firm said it will become the key global cocoa and industrial chocolate supplier to U.S. food giant Kraft Foods Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!kft/quotes/nls/kft (KFT 30.58, +0.23, +0.76%) . The deal is expected to more than double Barry Callebaut's existing business with Kraft. See more on Barry Callebaut.
Most Asian equity markets ended higher overnight, though China was a notable exception, with the Shanghai Composite stock index dropping 1.4%.
In the commodity markets, crude-oil futures gained 40 cents to $75.07 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex ahead of government data on U.S. petroleum supplies.
Gold futures dropped $2.40 to $1,255.10 an ounce.
The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.49, -0.10, -0.12%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, was little changed at 82.614.
Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.Powered By iWebRSS.com