U.S. stock index futures point to higher start

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 18:41 hrs

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.6 percent at 0924 GMT.

* Dow Jones futures added 0.4 percent while contracts on the Nasdaq 100 were 0.8 percent higher.

* Asian and European shares also rose on Thursday as hints from U.S. policymakers of progress toward reaching a fiscal deal boosted investors' risk appetites.

* The U.S. Commerce Department releases a second preliminary estimate of gross domestic product for the third quarter and a first estimate of third-quarter corporate profits at 1330 GMT.

* Third-quarter GDP growth will likely be raised to a 2.8 percent annual pace from 2 percent, thanks to restocking by businesses and a smaller deficit on the trade balance. Given that inventories will account for the bulk of the growth spurt, this should not be viewed as a sign of strength in the economy. The inventory boost is at the expense of growth in the fourth quarter.

* Retailers including Nordstrom, Gap and TJX are expected to post increases in November sales, aided by a busy Thanksgiving weekend. Excluding drugstores, chains are expected to post a November same-store sales gain of 3.3 percent according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, slower than the 3.5 percent growth they saw in November 2011.

* Kroger, the biggest U.S. supermarket operator, is expected to report third-quarter earnings per share of $0.43, up from $0.33 on year earlier. The report will give investors insight into spending by mainstream consumers and a read into food costs following this summer's devastating drought.

* Upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co will also provide its quarterly report, with EPS seen at $0.63 from $0.70 on year earlier, and update investors on how it expects holiday sales to shape up.

* Lockheed Martin and the Defense Department are nearing agreement on a long-delayed contract for a fifth batch of F-35 fighter jets, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

* An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday voted that an experimental Johnson & Johnson drug for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis appears to be safe and effective, but highlighted potential heart and liver-safety issues.

* Mark Fields said his top priority when he starts running Ford Motor's Co global operations next month will be to build on the 'One Ford' plan.

* Video recorder pioneer TiVo Inc forecast net loss for the current quarter even as legal costs stay high due to patent lawsuits against Google Inc's GOOG.O Motorola Mobility Inc and Cisco Systems Inc.

* ATM maker NCR Corp said it would buy Israeli software company Retalix Ltd for $650 million in a bid to expand its footprint in the retail sector.

* The Dow Jones industrial average rose 106.98 points, or 0.83 percent, to 12,985.11 on Wednesday. The S&P 500 gained 10.99 points, or 0.79 percent, to 1,409.93. The Nasdaq Composite added 23.99 points, or 0.81 percent, to close at 2,991.78.

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