Monday, November 29, 1999

Wall St to rise at open on Spain debt, data hurts

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U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher on Thursday as anxiety eased over Spain's sovereign debt, though gains could be limited after jobless claims rose unexpectedly.The number of people filing for unemployment insurance increased by 12,000 as manufacturing, construction and education sectors shed workers.The euro, used lately as a yardstick to gauge risk appetite, hit a three-week high against the U.S. dollar after Spain's government saw decent demand for its bond issues."The (jobless) claims are another frustrating data point," said Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York. "However, the big story today is the signs of a firming in the psychology in relation to Europe, and that's pulling futures higher."S&P 500 futures rose 0.4 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 gained 32 points and Nasdaq 100 futures <NDc2> added 12.5 points.BP Plc's U.S. shares were up 1 percent at $32.16 in premarket trading after the company agreed to a plan for a $20 billion fund to pay Gulf of Mexico oil spill claims. Chief Executive Tony Hayward faces grilling from U.S. lawmakers over the spill later Thursday.J.M. Smucker Co rose 4.2 percent to $60.20 premarket after it posted a fourth-quarter profit that topped expectations.Kroger Co jumped 6.1 percent to $21.30 after its earnings topped estimates.Duke Realty Corp fell 6.9 percent to $11.63 a day after the real estate investment trust said it will sell 23 million shares and use the proceeds to buy its joint venture partner's stake in Dugan Realty.Switzerland's parliament backed a Swiss-U.S. tax treaty crucial to the future of UBS AG. The U.S. shares rose 2.8 percent to $14.20 premarket.Among other data coming later Thursday, leading indicators for May are seen showing a 0.5 percent increase in economic activity, while the Philadelphia Fed business index for June is forecast at 20.9 versus May's 21.4. Both come at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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