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Futures Get Lift From Economy; FedEx Down

Stock index futures edged higher after the government said new jobless claims were just a bit higher than expected but inflation was essentially non-existent.

The Labor Department says new claims for unemployment insurance fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000, just ahead of analyst estimates.

At the same time, the Commerce Department said consumer prices remained flat as the wobbly economy prevented the ability of companies to charge more for their products.

Futures had been slightly negative prior to the data release but turned positive immediately afterwards.

The market outlook wasn't helped by earnings from economic bellwether Federal Express , which reported quarterly earnings of 76 cents a share but saw its stock lose 3.3 percent in premarket trading.

At 10 am, the widely-watched Philadelphia Fed index is out, expected to come in at 17.8 compared to 17.6 a month ago. At the same time, the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators is forecast to rise 0.1 percent.

Nike will be the most prominent stock to watch this morning, after its earnings vastly exceeded Wall Street estimates after the bell Wednesday. Another high-profile earnings report is on tap for this morning, with Dow Transportation component FedEx set to report before the opening bell.

Elsewhere, regional bank Sandy Spring Bancorp shares tumbled more than 9 percent after a share offering was priced at a discount, while international telecomm firm Vimple Com shed 4.8 percent on disappointing earnings results.

An American Bankers Association conference in Washington, DC will feature no less than three Federal Reserve speakers: Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker. Lacker and Hoenig have been among those dissenting as policymakers continue to say they will keep interest rates "exceptionally low" for an "extended period."

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.