Futures rise on trade hope, Walmart inches higher after results

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, as signs that the United States and China were working to resolve a bitter trade war eased nerves ahead of retail sales data.

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) shares rose 0.7 percent in premarket trading after the company beat comparable sales estimate for the third quarter, as more shoppers in the U.S. purchased goods at its stores and on its website.

The results come during a big week for retail earnings, with department store operator Macy’s Inc (M.N) raising its annual earnings forecast on Wednesday, signaling a strong holiday shopping season.

Shares in rival J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) slumped more than 11 percent after quarterly comparable-store sales fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Strong results for network gear maker Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and steadying oil prices also helped early trading as investors cheered the news that Beijing had delivered a written response to U.S. trade demands.

That lifted hopes ahead of an expected meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

U.S. stocks have gotten off to a shaky start this month after a sharp selloff in October as investors weigh the prospect of rising interest rates, slowing global economy and trade tensions.

The S&P 500 .SPX posted its fifth straight day of declines on Wednesday, as financial stocks were hit by fears of tighter regulations once the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.

Banking stocks looked to rebound, with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) rising 1.6 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) added a $4.02 billion stake in the lender.

The rise in U.S. equity futures came even as European markets were hammered as British Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest.

Just over 12 hours after May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.

At 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 83 points, or 0.33 percent. S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 7.75 points, or 0.29 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 39.75 points, or 0.59 percent.

Commerce Department data is expected to show that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in October after rising 0.1 percent in September. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Oil prices stabilized, reversing earlier declines, but market sentiment remained cautious over concerns that a supply glut may emerge amid a glum economic outlook.

Cisco rose 4.9 percent after the network gear maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results, benefiting from demand for its routers and switches.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) rose 0.9 percent ahead of its results expected after the closing bell.

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