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US stock index futures slightly advanced before GDP, jobless claims

stocks12US stock-index futures were little changed as investors awaited data on gross domestic product and jobless-benefit claims as Syria tensions continue. President Barack Obama made the case on Wednesday for a limited military strike against Syria in response to last weeks chemical weapons attack even as he faced new obstacles with British allies and U.S. lawmakers that could delay any imminent action.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in September rose 0.1% to 1,633.6 at 11:18 a.m. in London. The S&P 500 has fallen 3% in August, the biggest monthly drop in more than a year, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will pare stimulus measures and concern the U.S. will take military action against Syria. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 13 points, or 0.1%, to 14,819 today.

“We’re back to focusing on economic data, specifically out of the U.S. and Europe, and the Fed tapering, as the market is coming around to believe the Syrian conflict poses only a short-term risk,” said Manish Singh, who helps oversee $2 billion as head of investment at Crossbridge Capital in London. “I am of the opinion that tapering will happen in September, regardless of data. I expect GDP revision to be positive, and positive data will be good news.”

The Commerce Department will release a second estimate of gross domestic product growth for the April-to-June period. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the GDP estimate to get boosted as high as 2.3%, from a preliminary 1.7%. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Analysts at Danske Bank said if the data shows an improvement in growth and unemployment as expected, it will, “at the end of the day, still point towards a start to tapering in September.”

In corporate news, shares of Vodafone jumped 8% in London trading, with pre-market shares up about that much in the U.S., while Verizon shares rose just over 2%. Vodafone confirmed earlier reports that it’s in talks to sell its 45% stake in their joint venture, Verizon Wireless, though it said there is no certainty an agreement will be reached.

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