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Futures Pare Gains After Economic Reports

CNBC.com
Thursday, 27 Sep 2012 | 8:45 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures shaved their gains Thursday following some weaker-than-expected economic reports, but losses were limited amid hopes the Chinese government would step in to bolster the country's slowing growth.

Chinese stocks rebounded from multi-year lows amid speculation the government would announce steps to support the slowing markets that could include more changes to initial public reforms. In addition, China's central bank made a $57.9-billion injectioninto money markets this week, the largest in history.

The S&P 500 fell for the fifth trading day in a row on Wednesday, as euro zone concerns returned to the agenda following violent protests in Athens and Madrid.

On the economic front, the U.S. economy expanded at a tepid 1.3 percent annual rate, the slowest pace since the third quarter of 2011 and down from last month's 1.7-percent estimate, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a reading of 1.7 percent.

Durable goods orders slumped by the most in 3-1/2 years, tumbling 13.2 percent in August, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a decline of 5 percent.

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims fell to its lowest level since July, falling 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected claims to decline to 378,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims dropped 4,500 to 374,000, snapping five straight weeks of increases.

Pending home sales will be reported at 10 am ET. Sales are expected to remain flat in the latest month.

European shares rose slightlyahead of hopes for a new austerity budget in Spain, due later this morning. Protests in Europe, underlined by anti-austerity measures in Madrid and Athens, pushed the region's market sharply lower in the last few sessions. (See: Violent Protests Hit Greece and Spain)

Hewlett-Packard was flat after Jefferies cut its rating on the tech giant to "underperform" from "hold" and lowered its target to $14 from $17. H-P stock hit its lowest level in eight years before rebounding in the previous session.

On the M&A front, Sealy rallied after the mattress maker said it will be acquired by bigger rivalTempur-Pedic International for about $242 million and assume about $750 million in debt.

Hartford gained after the Wall Street Journal reported that Prudential is near an agreement to buy the financial services company's individual life insurance division.

The market will also be watching earnings from Nike , the world's biggest sportswear maker, management consultancy Accenture and Micron Technology .

By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Pending home sales, 7-yr note auction, farm prices; Earnings from Nike, Accenture, Research In Motion, Micron
FRIDAY: Personal income & outlays, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Walgreens

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