Futures edge higher, but mood remains fragile

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher Thursday after six days of losses, but the mood remained fragile with many analysts expecting the S&P 500 to retest recent lows unless there is some indication that the economy in not grinding to a halt.

* The S&P 500 has fallen more than 6 percent from a high at the start of May as fears of an economic slowdown grow. The index took out support at its April lows and some analysts are expecting a retest of its March bottom at around 1,249, another 2.4 percent below Wednesday’s close.

* “There has been almost a constant pattern of looking for a bottom here and not finding it by the time the day is over, and there is nothing to suggest today would be any different,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

* With investors focusing on labor market weakness after a lackluster jobs report for May, a reading on initial claims for jobless benefits later in the morning is likely to be a catalyst for markets.

* Claims for jobless benefits are expected to fall in the latest week to 415,000 from 422,000 the week earlier, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

* S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 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 27 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.25 points.

* Texas Instruments slashed its earnings and revenue forecasts, blaming the shortfall on major client Nokia’s ailing cellphone business. Shares of Texas Instruments initially fell 5 percent in extended trade before recovering.

* Some overseas markets were weak. European shares inched lower in choppy morning trade, losing ground for the seventh session in a row ahead of the European Central Bank’s post-policy meeting press conference. Japan’s Nikkei posted a slight gain.

* Brent crude oil was steady around $118 Thursday after surging in the previous session as Saudi Arabia failed to convince OPEC members to raise output targets and data showed U.S. crude stocks fell sharply last week.

* Citigroup Inc said computer hackers breached the bank’s network and accessed the data of about 200,000 bank card holders in North America, the latest of a string of computer attacks on high-profile companies.

* Diversified U.S. manufacturer Pall Corp posted better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by growth in its life sciences segment, and said it expects to reverse about $20-$30 million of previously recorded tax related liabilities in the fourth quarter. (Editing by Padraic Cassidy)