US STOCKS-Futures advance as Syria strike seen on hold

Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:49pm IST

Stocks

   

* GE to spin off consumer lending ops of GE Capital - WSJ

* British parliament votes against Syrian military action

* Salesforce.com jumps after results, outlook

* Futures up: Dow 19 pts, S&P 3.3 pts, Nasdaq 7.25 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced modestly on Friday as the likelihood of an immediate Western military strike on Syria appeared to lessen, and as the market awaited a handful of economic data.

U.S.-led efforts to punish Damascus over the use of chemical weapons against civilians were dealt a setback as Britain said it will not join any military action against Syria after a stunning parliamentary defeat on Thursday of a government motion on the issue.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said even after the rejection of military action by the British parliament, the U.S. will continue to seek out an international coalition to act together on Syria.

"There is at least a temporary easing of an imminent strike," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"We are pointing higher just before some key economic data, I am expecting the personal income and spending to set the tone for today's trading, basically a light trading day ahead of a long weekend."

In the first of a series of economic data due, investors will eye July personal income and consumption data at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.2 percent rise in income and a 0.3 percent increase in spending.

Later in the session at 9:45 a.m. (1345 GMT), the Institute for Supply Management Chicago releases its August index of Midwest business activity. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a reading of 53.0 compared with 52.3 in July.

Lastly, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers' final August data is expected at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect the main consumer sentiment index to read 80.5 compared with 80.0 in the preliminary August report.

The gain in futures puts the S&P on track for its third straight advance, although the benchmark index is down 1.5 percent for the week.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.3 points and were slightly above 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 gained 19 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7.25 points.

Volume is expected to be light on Friday ahead of the extended Labor Day holiday weekend.

General Electric Co shares rose 1.6 percent to $23.47 in premarket trade after the Wall Street Journal reported the conglomerate plans to spin off the U.S. consumer lending operations of its finance arm GE Capital.

Salesforce.com Inc jumped 9.4 percent to $47.74 before the opening bell after the company raised its fiscal 2014 sales outlook after reporting better-than-expected revenue and earnings.

Apache Corp climbed 6.2 percent to $83.55 in premarket trade after the oil and gas producer said it was selling a 33 percent stake in its Egypt oil and gas business for $3.1 billion to state-owned Chinese oil giant Sinopec Group.

Omnivision Technologies Inc slumped 13.2 percent to $15.99 after the chipmaker forecast current-quarter adjusted profit largely below expectations as rising competition and a slowdown of U.S. smartphone sales led to an inventory pile-up.

European shares fell, setting them on course for a monthly loss and the steepest weekly drop in two months, with oil stocks weighing as expectations were lowered of imminent Western strikes against Syria which would hurt supply.

Asian stocks rose as a possible U.S. military strike on Syria appeared less likely. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan finished up about 0.7 percent, managing a 0.1 percent weekly gain but a 1.3 percent monthly loss.