Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks: Futures up ahead of Ford results, jobless claims, home sales

MADRID (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures pointed to moderate gains for Wall Street on Thursday, as investors look ahead to key corporate results to help markets regain ground after losses this week.

Ford Motor Co. and ConocoPhilips will report ahead of the open, while Facebook Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. could be active after reporting earnings and a corporate shuffle, respectively.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, +0.48%  rose 55 points, or 0.3%, to 17,155, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.35%  added 4.4 points to 1,996. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NDH5, +0.19%  gained 5.75 points to 4,130.25.

Wednesday’s statement from the Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee implied a midyear hike is still a possibility. Read as some by hawkish, that view was enough to send Treasurys and the dollar higher, and stocks in the other direction. The S&P 500 index SPX, -1.35%  lost 1.4%, and even the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.93%  fell 0.9% as a big gain by Apple Inc. AAPL, +5.65%  wasn’t enough to keep it in the green.

Panic appeared to be receding somewhat on Thursday, though. “Traders are penciling in June for a rate rise from the U.S. central bank, but if energy prices remain weak, it could be pushed further out,” said David Madden, market analyst at IG.

“The U.S. recovery is going to plan, but the Fed’s decision will be influenced by factors outside its control,” he said in a note.

Facebook earnings rise on mobile growth

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The social network continues to spend aggressively with expenses up 87% and though it isn’t signing up new users the way it once did, Facebook is generating a lot more revenue from each user.

Weekly jobless-claims data is coming at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with pending-home sales for December coming at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Ford, Facebook: Ford F, -1.63% F, -1.63% and ConocoPhilips COP, -4.52% are expected to report earnings ahead of the bell, as are Viacom Inc. VIA, -1.14% Callway Golf Co. ELY, -1.64%  and Harley-Davidson Inc. HOG, -0.32% Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.93%  and Google Inc. GOOG, -1.66%  are coming after the close.

Shares of Facebook FB, +0.61%  were under 1% lower in thin, premarket trade, after the social-networking company on Wednesday reported results that were slightly above consensus.

Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, -1.09%  shares skidded 8% after the chip maker cut its outlook.

McDonald’s MCD, -0.88%  could add to a nearly 3% late-session gain after the fast-food giant announced that President and CEO Don Thompson will retire March 1, and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook will take his place.

Overseas markets: European stocks SXXP, -0.27%  came under moderate pressure — the the oil and gas group in particular. Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDS.A, -3.87% RDS.B, -3.91%  fell 4% after the company said it plans to cut capital expenditure by about $ 15 billion over the next three years.

Oil prices CLH5, -0.07%  edged up from nearly six-year lows, while gold GCG5, -0.84%   prices fell nearly 1% to $ 1,275 an ounce. The dollar DXY, +0.01%  drifted lower. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 NIK, -1.06%   retreated on earnings and Fed rate-hike worries.


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