Futures Pare Gains After Economic News

Stock futures pared earlier gains after the government said economic growth was slower in the third quarter than previously estimated, primarily because consumers had pulled back.

Wall Street still pointed to a positive open, but economic data that also showed a surprising drop in weekly jobless claims to their lowest level in three and a half years still left the market wary.

Markets finished mixed Wednesday on misgivings over the European Central Bank's three-year loan program for banks to buy sovereign debt, and as big tech names took a sharp fall. In a positive for market technicians, stocks finished close to their session highs and mostly held the massive 300-plus point rally Tuesday on the Dow.

"The fact that the Dow here in the US had risen by plus-300 points Tuesday and has given nothing back since is really quite impressive," said Dennis Gartman, author of The Gartman Letter and a hedge fund manager. "And we might say the same of the strength earlier this week in Europe, which has been followed by a very quiet correction."

The economic data will come at 8:30 am, with investors expecting jobless claims to climb to 380,000, while GDP is projected to hold at 2 percent, the same as the previous estimate, according to Reuters.

Also, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers is due at 9:55 am and the Federal Housing Finance Agency issues its Home Price Index for October at 10 am.

In corporate news Yahoo is considering a plan to cut stakes in its prized Asian assets as part of a complicated share transaction valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter told the New York Times on Wednesday, winning nods of approval from Wall Street.

Housing could be in the spotlight again, after data this week showed a jump in new housing starts and building permits but lackluster sales data, compounded by sharp downward revisions necessitated after the National Association of Realtors admitted to over-counting sales during the market's collapse.

Stifel Nicolaus issued a warning Wednesday on the builders, advising investors to sell into strength. The firm followed Thursday by downgrading KB Home, whose shares were off slightly in premarket trading.

Vivus shares came under pressure after the pharmaceutical company revealed concerns over its diet drug Qnexa. Leerink Swan cuts its view on Vivus to "market perform," and shares tumbled 14 percent in premarket trading.

Bed, Bath & Beyond shares also fell after the company reported earnings that beat expectations but on weak revenue growth.

Airbus is on course to end 2011 with well over 1,600 orders, pushing Boeing to the lowest market share of their 40-year rivalry.

European Commission antitrust officials were not swayed by Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext's last-ditch arguments to save their $9 billion deal, sources told Reuters. This makes it increasingly likely the exchange operators will have to take their campaign directly to the commissioners.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose on Thursday in thin trade, with banking stocks featuring among the top performers.