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US stocks seen higher after boost from China


U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Thursday, as shares in Europe and Asia were boosted by strong Chinese trade data.


China's Shanghai Composite traded within 20 points off a new three-week high after data showed Chinese exports jumped 5 percent in July, while imports surged 10 percent. This beat market forecasts for a 3 percent rise in exports and 2 percent gain in imports.


The data came as a welcome surprise after June's contraction,and entrenched the positive mood created by last month's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data.


"All this confirms our view that the economy has bottomed out and will re-accelerate in the second half. We would like to call the end to worries over China for this year," Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist at Credit Agricole, told CNBC.


However, Japan's benchmark Nikkei suffered a second day of losses, following the previous day's 4 percent tumble, and the dollar-yen traded near a seven-week low of 96.15. The Bank of Japan opted to leave monetary policy unchanged at the end of its two-day meeting on Thursday, but investors are hoping central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda will attempt to talk down the yen at a press conference later on Thursday.


In Europe, shares also staged a mild recovery after a weak performance on Wednesday following the Bank of England's press conference, at which governor Mark Carney outlined his plans to link interest rates to unemployment.


Across the Atlantic, weekly jobless claims numbers will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, and will be eyed with interest, as the Federal Reserve has flagged employment levels as key to when it starts scaling back its asset purchases.


Traders will also be watching the $16 billion auction of 30-year bonds on Thursday at 1 p.m. "Like we saw today, there's clearly interest at a level…We're seeing a bit of a return of buyers who have been shy for a while in here," said David Ader, chief Treasury strategist at CRT Capital.


There are plenty of second quarter earnings due on Thursday, including numbers from including Fannie Mae, Beam, Dean Foods, AES, Scripps Networks and Windstream, ahead of the Wall Street open.


Earlier on Thursday, global miner Rio Tinto reported an 18 percent drop in first-half underlying earnings, and said it had given up hope of ditching its loss-making Pacific Aluminium division.


Plus, Nestle, the world's biggest food group, posted growth of 4.1 percent for the first half, missing forecasts and lagging growth of rivals Danone and Unilever. Meanwhile,Germany's Commerzbank said that Detroit's default had dented its second quarter-earnings.