US STOCKS-Wall St to rise as data offsets Fed taper concern

US STOCKS-Wall St to rise as data offsets Fed taper concern

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 21, 2013 14:21 hrs

* Hologic up on Icahn stake, pares gain on shareholders rights plan

* Target cuts full year profit forecast

* Abercrombie shares fall after results

* Futures up: Dow 49 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 13 pts

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to rise at the open on Thursday after data suggested stronger labor market conditions and subdued inflation pressures, while traders digested the Federal Reserve's latest assessment of the economy.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week and producer prices fell for a second straight month in October, indicating inflation pressures remain benign.

Separate data showed U.S. manufacturing rebounded this month after hitting a one-year low in October and output grew at its fastest pace in nine months.

An indication that the Fed may be ready to start scaling back its $85 billion a month stimulus had weighed on equities Wednesday. The central bank has repeated it will not taper until the economy can stand on its own and interest rates will remain low well after stimulus is cut back.

"For a long time we have been focused on nothing but the Fed, but the Fed has differentiated well enough between taper and tighten," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

"In that environment, good news becomes good news and the market should react strongly to positive economic data and jobs numbers."

S&P 500 futures rose 5 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 rose 49 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 13 points.

The S&P 500 closed down for a third straight session on Wednesday, while the Dow toughed 16,000 and failed to close above it once more. That level as well as 1,800 on the S&P have provided resistance so far, but a clear climb above them could further entice money managers eager to chase performance.

Target shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading after comparable sales rose a smaller than expected 0.9 percent in the third quarter and it lowered its full year profit forecast.

Activist investor Carl Icahn reported a 12.6 percent stake in medical device maker Hologic Inc, prompting the company to adopt a shareholder rights plan to protect itself from hostile takeovers. Hologic shares rose 3.1 percent in premarket trading.

Sears Holdings, which operates its eponymous department stores and the Kmart discount chain, reported a wider quarterly net loss as sales fell at both chains and it invested in more promotions targeting rewards members. Shares fell 4.4 percent premarket.

Abercrombie & Fitch reported a quarterly loss, with comparable-store sales declining for a seventh straight quarter as the teen apparel retailer struggled with the changing tastes of young shoppers. Its shares dropped 3.2 percent in premarket trading.

At 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases the November business activity survey.

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