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Stock futures edge higher; new home sales data on tap

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[May 23, 2014]  By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures inched higher on Friday, ahead of data on the housing market, with the S&P 500 on track to score its first weekly gain in the past three.

New home sales data for April is due at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT). Expectations call for sales of single-family homes to climb to 425,000 units from the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000 units in the prior month.

The S&P 500 ended higher for a second session on Thursday, as gains in small-cap stocks help buoy investor confidence, while the Nasdaq climbed on a rally in biotech shares. The benchmark S&P index has climbed in four of the past five trading days and is up 0.8 percent for the week.

The S&P is 0.5 percent from its record intraday high of 1,902.17 set on May 13 and 0.3 percent from its record closing high of 1,897.45 set on the same day. The index has been range-bound between the highs and its 50-day moving average as investors have been unsure of the pace of the economic recovery.

Volume is expected to be light Friday ahead of an extended holiday weekend, with Wall Street closed Monday for Memorial Day.

S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 1.75 points and were slightly 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 e-mini futures gained 12 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 5.25 points.

Hewlett-Packard Co <HPQ.N> dipped 0.4 percent $31.64 in premarket after it reported quarterly results and said it may cut as many as 16,000 more jobs in a major ramp-up of CEO Meg Whitman's years-long effort to turn around the personal computer maker and relieve pressure on its profit margins.

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Aeropostale <ARO.N> tumbled 16.8 percent to $3.76 before the opening bell after the teen apparel retailer forecast a bigger-than-expected loss for the current quarter.

European shares edged lower, moving further away from last week's six-year highs with investors trading cautiously ahead of European and Ukrainian election results. <.EU>

Asian shares edged up to one-year highs on Friday as investors welcomed signs of improving momentum in the world's biggest economies.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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