US STOCKS-Futures drift higher ahead of data, Target slips

Rodrigo Campos
Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 | 8:01 AM ET

* Target cuts full year profit forecast

* Abercrombie shares fall after results

* Futures up: Dow 31 pts, S&P 3 pts, Nasdaq 10 pts

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, following three days of declines on the S&P 500, as traders digested the Federal Reserve's latest assessment of the economy ahead of inflation and job market data.

Major indexes turned lower late in the session on Wednesday after the Fed indicated it could start scaling back its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases at one of its next few meetings, if this was warranted by economic growth.

"The market is trying to figure out if a December taper is good or bad," said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York. "We should want the Fed to taper, because it means they are seeing things better," he said.

The U.S. Labor Department releases the October Producer Price Index at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 0.2 percent drop compared with a 0.1 percent decrease in September. Core PPI is expected to rise 0.1 percent.

Also released at 8:30 a.m. are first-time claims for weekly jobless benefits, which are forecast at 335,000.

Markit releases its U.S. flash Markit Manufacturing PMI for November at 8:58 a.m. (1358 GMT). Economists expect a reading of 52.4 versus 51.8 in the final October report. At 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases the November business activity survey.

"The Fed focused on inflation and jobs so the market could probably focus on that," Hogan said.

S&P 500 futures rose 3 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 31 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10 points.

Target shares fell 4.7 percent premarket after it reported comparable sales rose a smaller than expected 0.9 percent in the third quarter and it lowered its full year profit forecast.

Sears Holdings, which operates its eponymous department stores and the Kmart discount chain, reported a wider quarterly net loss as sales fell at both chains and it invested in more promotions targeting rewards members.

Goldman Sachs lost more than $1 billion on currency trades during the third quarter, regulatory filings show, offering some insight into why the firm, considered one of Wall Street's most savvy traders, reported its worst quarter in a key trading unit since the financial crisis.

Abercrombie & Fitch reported a quarterly loss, with comparable-store sales declining for a seventh straight quarter as the teen apparel retailer struggled with the changing tastes of young shoppers. Its shares dropped 2.3 percent in light premarket trading.