NEW YORK — Encouraging news from Europe and China sent stock futures higher despite another round of bleak earnings reports from U.S. retailers.
Dow Jones industrial futures are up 51 points to 14,898. S&P 500 futures added 7.5 points to 1,644. Nasdaq futures rose 19.5 points to 3,082.
HSBC Corp. said Thursday that the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers' index for China rose to 50.1 in August from July's 47.7. Numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.
And a monthly composite report in Europe measuring the strength of the manufacturing and services sectors hit its highest level since June 2011.
Major indexes in German, France and China bounced higher on the news, and U.S. stock futures followed.
In the U.S, however, for the second consecutive week, retailers are taking a pounding as quarterly earnings reports reveal meager traffic, falling sales and prices slashed in an attempt to lure elusive shoppers back into stores.
Sears and Abercrombie & Fitch, like other retailers, are seeing their shares plunge on terrible earnings reports.
Abercrombie & Fitch fell short of Wall Street expectations for its second quarter Thursday, and it issued a gloomy forecast for its current quarter.
Comparable store sales plunged 10 percent globally, and company shares fell by twice that before the opening bell.
Macy's and Wal-Mart cut their outlooks last week, and on Thursday, investors sent Sears down more than 8 percent after the company reported broader losses because of bigger discounts on its goods.
Also Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose 13,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 336,000.
However, the four-week average, which is a better gauge of the employment landscape because it's less volatile, fell for the sixth week in a row to 330,500.
That's the lowest for the average since November 2007.