Futures point to slight gains for Wall Street

* U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) were set to open slightly higher on Thursday,
adding to gains from the previous session, with futures for the
Dow Jones (DJc1: ), the S&P 500 (SPc1: ) and the Nasdaq (NDc1: ) all
up by around 0.1 percent by 0900 GMT.

* The S&P 500 (.SPX: ) is heading for its best December in
nearly two decades. The index has gained 6.7 percent so far this
month and rose in 17 of the last 20 sessions.

* Volumes, however, were expected to remain thin due to the
year-end holiday period.

* The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), due at 1445
GMT, is likely to give the market some direction.

* The index has been running hotter than most other
manufacturing indicators but the gap is expected to have
narrowed a bit in the December reading, with analysts
forecasting a drop to 61.0 from 62.5 the month before.

* Other data likely to be closely watched include pending
home sales for November, which is expected to show a slight dip,
and weekly jobless claims which is seen extending a seasonal
slide heading into the last week of December.

* In company news, U.S. health regulators have approved Endo
Pharmaceuticals Holding Inc (ENDP.O: ) and ProStrakan Group PLC’s
(PSK.L: ) Fortesta testosterone gel to treat men with low levels
of the hormone. [ID:nN29289264]

* Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: ) and the U.S. unit of
Australia’s Austal Ltd (ASB.AX: ) won U.S. Navy contracts
potentially worth more than $3.5 billion each to design and
build up to a combined total of 20 coastal combat ships through
2015. [ID:nN29290028]

* A blizzard in the U.S. Northeast this weekend postponed
about $1 billion in holiday retail sales by keeping shoppers
away from stores in the days after Christmas, research firm
ShopperTrak said. [ID:nN29280698]

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index of top shares was slightly weaker in early trade, pausing
for breath following a rally in December which has put equities
on track to post their biggest monthly rise in 17 months.
(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

Futures point to slight gains for Wall Street