* Aetna results beat expectations
* Durable goods, initial claims data on tap
* Apple earnings after the close
* Futures up: Dow 60 pts, S&P 6.8 pts, Nasdaq 16.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 may rebound from its worst five-day slide in five months, on optimism China's economy may be recovering and ahead of a flurry of economic data and corporate earnings.
* The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said China's factory output should grow faster in the last three months of 2012 than in the third quarter, though the recovery remains clouded by uncertainty in export markets, increasing hopes the world's second largest economy may see a soft landing to its slowdown.
* Investors will look to economic data for investment cues. On tap are September durable goods orders and weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 7.1 percent rise in orders and a total of 370,000 new filings compared with 388,000 in the prior week.
* At 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), pending home sales for September is due, which investors will peruse for signs of continued improvement in the housing market. Analysts surveyed by Reuters expect a 2.1 percent increase compared with a 2.6 percent drop in the previous month.
* Procter & Gamble Co posted a quarterly profit and maintained its key earnings forecast for the year as the world's largest household products maker cut costs and narrowed its focus on key markets, products and countries.
* Procter's smaller rival Colgate-Palmolive Co reported improved quarterly profit as the toothpaste and soap maker spent a bit more on advertising to entice shoppers after raising prices.
* Sprint Nextel Corp posted a wider loss in the third quarter as it spent heavily on a network upgrade and lost customers from its iDen network, which it is shutting down. Shares advanced 0.7 percent to $5.66 in premarket trading.
* A total of 56 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, including Apple, Amazon, ConocoPhillips and Eastman Chemical Co.
* The benchmark S&P index has shed 3.6 percent over the last five sessions, its worst performance since mid-May, and is down 3.9 percent from its closing high of Sept. 14, amid weak earnings outlooks and top-line revenue misses by large multinational companies.
* S&P 500 futures rose 6.8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 60 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 16.5 points.
* Aetna Inc, the third-largest U.S. health insurer, reported a higher quarterly profit that beat expectations, saying it had reached its 2012 goal of 18.2 million members ahead of schedule and kept costs down.
* European stocks edged higher, led by miners, after China said factory output was set to accelerate, but profit warnings hit WPP and Daimler.
* Asian shares inched higher as signs of recovery in China and the United States eased fears of deteriorating global growth, though generally weak corporate earnings continued to make investors wary.