- Ford, 3M beat forecasts with quarterly results
- Chinese manufacturing brightens outlook
- US data mostly misses estimates
Dow Jones: 0.26%
S&P 500: 0.02%
US stock markets edged higher in early trading on Thursday as traders focused on an improving outlook for China and instead shrugged off disappointing economic data closer to home.
A number of corporate earnings figures also lifted sentiment today as companies from Ford to 3M managed to exceed analysts' expectations. The share prices
of Amazon.com and Microsoft were also higher this morning ahead of their results out after the close.
Global equity markets were on the up after figures from HSBC and Markit showed that activity in China's manufacturing sector rose to a seven-month high. The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) increased from 50.2 to 50.9, ahead of the consensus forecast of 50.4.
Jobless claims fail to hit forecasts
Weekly initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 in the week ended October 19th to 350,000 from a revised 362,000, though it still missed the consensus forecast of 340,000. The higher-than-expected figure was partly due to the effects of the government shutdown as well as the continuing impact of a computer-system upgrade in California last month.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of claims increased by 10,000 on the prior week to 348,000.
"It is unclear how long the technical issues in California and government shutdown effects will persist, but both remain upside risks for jobless claims in coming weeks," said analyst Cooper Howes from Barclays.
In other economic data, Markit's 'flash' US PMI for the manufacturing sector fell from 52.8 to 51.1 in October, missing the 52.5 estimate.
The August trade deficit increased slightly to $38.8bn in August from a downwardly-revised $38.6bn the month before, though this was slightly under analysts' forecasts.
Ford beats quarterly estimates
Carmaker Ford accelerated after third-quarter revenues rose from $32.1bn to $36bn, ahead of the $33.8bn consensus forecast. The firm also said it expects an improvement in full-year pre-tax profit in 2013, better than previous guidance.
3M the technology conglomerate, also impressed with a 6% increase in third-quarter profit to $1.23bn on sales up 5.6% at $7.92bn.
Software maker Citrix advanced after increasing its buyback and forecasting fourth-quarter earnings ahead of analysts' estimates.
Equinix, the operator of data centres, gained after saying it expects fourth-quarter sales to exceed $559m, above market forecasts.
Gold miner Goldcorp was also higher after managing to beat predictions despite a sharp drop in profits in the third quarter after a 21% fall in average realised gold prices.
Heading the other way was computer security firm Symantec which plunged after cutting its 2014 outlook to below Wall Street estimates. It now expects revenue to fall 3-4% on the year.
Akamai Technologies declined after projecting fourth-quarter revenue and profit that fell short of some forecasts.