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Pre-Market: Stocks Rise as Jobless Claims Decline; Microsoft, Amazon Earnings to Come

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Ford is set to improve earnigns from last year.

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Stock futures are higher this morning as jobless claims declined and major companies report earnings.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.38% at 15,410 and contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.27% to 1,746.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.25% to 3,348.25.

Jobless claims last week fell by 12,000 to 350,000. In August, America's trade deficit widened to $38.8 billion from $38.6 billion. Later today, Markit will publish its United States manufacturing PMI, which is expected to slow just slightly to 52.7.

Today will bring another onslaught of corporate earings, the biggest earnings day of the year. Ford (NYSE:F) beat estimates but missed on revenue. The automaker raised its profit outlook on the strength of its overseas business. In Europe, a weak market for years, the company cut its losses by half. Ford now expects pre-tax profits to be higher than last year's. For the third quarter, Ford earned $0.45 per share in the third quarter beating expectations, but revenue of $33.9 billion disappointed.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are both slated to report earnings after the bell. Analysts say that the software company is likely to earn $0.54 per share in the last quarter. We will look for signs that the company is making any headway with its new hardware offerings. The earnings call might also shed light onto the search for the next CEO and the state of the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) mobile merger.

Amazon is heading for a loss of $0.09 per share as it continues to push for market share and innovation at the expense of profits.

McKesson Corporation (NYSE:MCK), which tops all other US drug companies on sales, is reported to be making an offer to acquire Celesio AG (OTCMKTS:CAKFY) for $7.6 billion. McKesson shares rose 7% in the pre-market on those reports.

Eurozone purchasing manager's indices are showing that the continent is still growing, but more slowly. In the flash estimate, eurozone PMI rose to 52.6, with manufacturing at 51.3 and services falling 1.2 points to 50.9. German services missed the mark at 52.3, manufacturing rose slightly to 51.5, and its private sector as a whole fell 1.2 points to 52.6. France had a small reduction in services to 50.2, and manufacturing fell back into contraction at 49.4. French composite PMI was 50.1, just barely hanging above the threshold for expansion. (Numbers above 50 indicate improving conditions.)

Spanish unemployment fell to 26% in the third quarter, from 26.3%

China's flash manufacturing PMI declined by 0.3 points to 50.9 but beat expectations.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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