U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open Thursday on the back of a positive close for the major indexes in the previous session, as investors braced for the government's weekly read on jobless claims.
Here's what analysts and others are watching before the bell:
Chuck Carlson, CEO and portfolio manager for Horizon Investment Services, says the firm's market outlook is based on the Dow Theory, which says the primary trend is bearish.
"We're getting a retest of the July 2 lows of 9686.48," Carlson says. "That's the point we're focusing on closely. If the Dow breaks below that level, there will be more selling ahead."
If the Dow remains above those lows, more choppy trading in a range-bound market will be seen, he says.
"We don't see the Dow going above the 11,205 level hit earlier this year," he says.
Right now, Carlson says high-quality dividend-paying stocks in the Dow as good buying opportunities. Twenty-nine of the 30 companies in the Dow pay dividends, and two-thirds of those are yielding 2.5 percent or more, he notes.
Carlson's favorite picks are:
"All four of these stocks have good value, decent operating momentum and dividend growth," Carlson says."And should experience solid gains over the next 24 months."
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