NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures rose on Thursday, alongside other risk assets, as stronger-than-expected exports in China, the world's second-biggest economy, raised hopes for a more robust recovery in the global economy this year.
Data showed China's export growth rebounded sharply to a seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after seven straight quarters of slowdown, even as demand from Europe and the United States remained subdued.
Adding to the bullish sentiment, Spanish benchmark government bond yields fell below 5 percent to a 10-month low on the back of a strong bond auction that raised more than the target amount.
"The market's more positive and it owes a lot of that to the Chinese economic data," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York, adding that the success of the Spanish auction was also of note.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.2 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 25 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5 points.
Traders await the Labor Department release of first-time claims for jobless benefits for the latest week at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 365,000 new filings compared with 372,000 in the prior week.
The Commerce Department releases wholesale inventories for November at 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT). Economists expect inventories to rise 0.3 percent, against a 0.6 percent increase in October.
Several Federal Reserve speakers are due to speak Thursday, including Kansas City Fed President Esther George and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. Market participants are likely to pay close attention to their remarks following indications, in the minutes of the latest Fed meeting, that the Fed may halt its highly simulative asset purchases this year. The program has been one of the pillars of the strength in the equity market.
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(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos)
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