* Jobless claims unexpectedly fall, U.S. Sept. exports rise
* ECB holds main interest rate steady at 0.75 percent
* Qualcomm rises after revenue tops view, Whole Foods falls
* Futures up: Dow 50 pts, S&P 2.5 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Nov 8 Wall St was set to rise slightly
at the open on Thursday after stronger-than-expected U.S. job
market data and a rise in exports a day after stock indexes
posted the largest drops in months.
Data showed the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in September as
exports increased, suggesting the economy expanded more than
previously estimated in the third quarter, while fewer Americans
than expected filed new claims for unemployment benefits last
The jobs data was distorted by a massive storm that hit the
U.S. Northeast last week, though it wasn't clear if Hurricane
Sandy's net effect was to boost or reduce claims.
"We've seen a big spike in the trend of the jobs market in
the past few months," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of
Sarhan Capital in New York. "We should react positively to
Equities slumped more than 2 percent Wednesday as investor
focus returned to Europe's economic troubles and as the
electoral victory by President Barack Obama turned markets'
focus to the looming "fiscal cliff."
Investors worry that if no deal is agreed in Congress over
some $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases due to kick
in early next year, it could derail the U.S. economic recovery.
"To the extent we start to see some clarification of what
(Congress) is thinking about, whatever it may be, it will
provide some confidence," said Rick Meckler, president of
investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City,
He said the open-ended nature of what the fix may be for
taxes has flooded markets with uncertainty.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.5 points and were up in terms
of 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 added 50
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9 points.
Wednesday's retreat marked the biggest daily drop for the
S&P 500 since June 1; the index closed below the key 1,400 level
for the first time since Aug. 30. Despite Wednesday's selloff,
the benchmark S&P 500 is still up more than 10 percent so far
Qualcomm Inc late Wednesday reported quarterly
revenue that beat expectations, sending shares up more than 8
percent in premarket trading.
Whole Foods Market Inc reported earnings that met
expectations but its shares fell 2.2 percent before the bell.
Futures briefly strengthened earlier as the euro cut losses
versus the U.S. dollar after the European Central Bank held its
main interest rate at 0.75 percent despite dovish comments
Wednesday from ECB president Mario Draghi that stirred market
rumors of a rate cut. A rise in the U.S. dollar also weighed on