* Wholesale inventories data on tap
* Tiffany shares slide after earnings estimates
* Nokia ADRs rally after results
* Futures up: Dow 45 pts, S&P 7.7 pts, Nasdaq 18 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 10 U.S. stocks were set to rise at
the open on Thursday as stronger-than-expected exports in China,
the world's second-biggest economy, raised hopes for a more
robust recovery in the global economy this year.
Data showed China's export growth rebounded sharply to a
seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after
seven straight quarters of slowdown, even as demand from Europe
and the United States remained subdued.
Ford Motor shares gained 3.1 percent to $13.89 in
premarket trading after it doubled its first-quarter dividend to
10 cents a share, despite a recent drop in market share.
Adding to the bullish sentiment, Spanish benchmark
government bond yields fell below 5 percent to a
10-month low on the back of a strong bond auction that raised
more than the targeted amount.
"The market's more positive and it owes a lot of that to the
Chinese economic data," said Art Hogan, managing director of
Lazard Capital Markets in New York, adding that the success of
the Spanish auction was also of note.
S&P 500 futures rose 7.7 points and were 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 rose 45
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 18 points.
Data showed new claims for unemployment benefits rose last
week, though seasonal volatility made it difficult to get a
clear picture of the labor market's health. The market's
reaction to the data was muted.
Looking ahead, traders await the release of wholesale
inventories data for November by the Commerce Department at
10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT). Economists expect inventories to rise
0.3 percent, against a 0.6 percent increase in October.
Several Federal Reserve speakers are due to speak Thursday,
including Kansas City Fed President Esther George and St. Louis
Fed President James Bullard. Market participants are likely to
pay close attention to their remarks following indications, in
the minutes of the latest Fed meeting, that the Fed may halt its
highly stimulative asset purchases this year. The program has
been one of the pillars of the strength in the equity market.
Shares of upscale jeweler Tiffany dropped 8 percent
to $58.21 in premarket trading after it said earnings for the
year through Jan. 31 will be at the lower end of its forecast.
Molycorp shares dropped 13 percent to $9.39 in
premarket trading after the company said revenue and cash flow
would be lower than expected this year due to lower rare-earth
U.S.-traded Nokia shares jumped 18 percent to $4.43
after the Finnish handset maker said its fourth-quarter results
were better than expected and that the mobile phone business
achieved underlying profitability.