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U.S. Stock Futures Hold Steady Ahead Of Jobless-Claims Data

01/31/2013 | 08:24am US/Eastern

--Stock futures hover near unchanged ahead of jobless claims, personal spending, income data

--Europe declines after German retail-sales data surprise with a sharp decline

--Japanese stocks hit highest level in more than four years; Australia snaps 10-session win streak

--Weekly jobless claims seen rising to 365,000; spending, incomes expected to increase slightly

   By Tomi Kilgore 

NEW YORK--U.S. stock futures waffled around unchanged levels, with investors looking ahead to reports on jobless claims, personal income and spending to see whether the market can end the strongest January in decades on a bright note.

About 90 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures inched lower by one point, or less than 0.1%, to 13837. On Wednesday, the Dow fell 44 points, or 0.3%, the biggest one-day decline since Jan. 8, but was still on track for its best January performance since 1989.

Standard & Poor's 500-stock index futures were unchanged at 1495 and Nasdaq 100 futures lost seven points, or 0.3%, to 2729.

Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.

Data on initial claims for jobless benefits in the latest week are due out at 8:30 a.m. EST. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires is for a rise to 365,000 from the previous week's 330,000.

Also at 8:30 a.m. EST, personal income for December is seen rising 1% on the month, consumer spending is expected to rise 0.2% and core personal consumption expenditures are pegged to rise 0.1%. At 9:45 a.m., the Chicago-area purchasing managers index for January is expected to rise to 50.0 from December's 48.9; a reading of 50 and above indicates expansion.

Among stocks seeing premarket activity, shares of Facebook slid 6.7% after the social-network company reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates, but its operating margin narrowed and costs surged on the year, and monthly active visitors rose modestly from the third quarter.

European markets were broadly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 off 0.4% and on track for a two-week closing low, following weak German data and after the U.S. Federal Reserve late Wednesday said economic activity paused in recent months.

Retail sales in Germany fell 1.7% in December, much worse than expectations of 0.2% growth. Germany's DAX index lost 0.3%.

Asian markets were mixed, with Japanese stocks finishing off a strong month on a bright note amid broad gains in the banking sector. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.2% on the day, and climbed 7.2% on the month, to the highest level since October 2008. China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.1% to an eight-month high, while Australia's S&P ASX 200 declined 0.4% to snap a 10-session winning streak.

Front-month March crude-oil futures slipped 0.2% to $97.72 a barrel, while February gold futures eased 0.3% to $1,675.40 an ounce. The dollar rose slightly against the euro but lost ground against the yen.

In corporate news, Qualcomm rallied 6.3% after the semiconductor maker beat both earnings and revenue estimates of its fiscal first-quarter, citing strong global demand for smartphones, and provided an upbeat outlook for the current quarter.

WMS Industries shot up 56% after Scientific Games agreed to acquire the fellow game company for about $1.5 billion. Scientific Games' stock was still untraded ahead of the open.

Celsion plummeted 83% after the company said a late-stage study of its liver-cancer treatment didn't meet its primary endpoint.

Online Resources soared 80% after the provider of online-banking services agreed to be acquired by ACI Worldwide in a deal valued at $263 million. ACI shares were still inactive ahead of the open.

Fusion-IO tumbled 16% after the data-storage company's fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue beat estimates, but the company said it expects to report an adjusted loss during the current quarter versus expectations of a profit, given customer-order timing issues.

JDS Uniphase climbed 14% after the broadband-products maker reported better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue, led by strength in its communications and commercial-optics products business.

Citrix Systems surged 11% after the software maker reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that were well above expectations and provided a full-year revenue outlook that was above current analyst projections.

Nasdaq OMX reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped estimates, citing strength in its U.S. options, proprietary-data and global-index businesses. The stock was still untraded in the premarket.

Write to Tomi Kilgore at tomi.kilgore@dowjones.com.

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