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Futures Hold Gains After Jobless Claims

Thursday, 18 Apr 2013 | 9:17 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures held their modest gains Thursday, following the previous session's broad selloff, even after weekly jobless claims ticked slightly higher.

Weekly jobless claims gained 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000, according to the Labor Department. A Labor Department analyst said claims for California and Kentucky had been estimated.Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 350,000 new claims, up from 346,000 in the previous week.

Also on the economic front, the Philadelphia Fed survey will be reported at 10 am ET. Analysts in a Reuters poll forecast new orders will rise in April to give a reading of 3.0, up from 2.0 in March. And the Conference Board will also release its leading economic indicators index for March at the same time. Economists forecast a gain of 0.1 percent, against an increase of 0.5 percent in February.

Stocks yo-yoed this week, with all three major benchmark indexes suffering their sharpest one-day drop of the year on Monday, before recovering most of those losses on Tuesday. However, after Wednesday's steep declines, stocks are on track for their worst weekly loss of the year.

Earnings again were a mixed bag, with surging big-bank profits still not enough to quell investor appetite in the financial sector but the news good in most other areas.

Morgan Stanley reported quarterly results that topped expectations, thanks to strong gains in its global wealth management and securities units.

PepsiCo edged higher after the beverage company also posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue. The company also stood by its full-year forecast.

Also, Verizon gained after the telecommunications company topped earnings estimates, but revenue fell slightly below expectations.

Meanwhile, UnitedHealth edged past earnings expectations, but shares declined as the health care company said that a major public-sector customer had switched to a fee-based insurance service from a full-risk plan in the first quarter and lowered its 2013 sales guidance.

Tech giants Google, IBM, and Microsoft are scheduled to post results after the closing bell. Capital One and Chipotle are among other notable companies slated to report. .

In addition, SeaWorld Entertainment will price its IPO (initial public offering) after the closing bell.

In Europe, Italy's parliament voted on Thursday to find a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano, whose mandate expires on May 15.

Napolitano has made little headway in breaking a political deadlock since February's inconclusive general election and the successful presidential candidate is set to inherit the country's political impasse. Analysts expect new elections within the year if the deadlock is not overcome soon.

Read More: Italy's Presidential Election Goes Down to the Wire)

Meanwhile, G20 (Group of 20) finance ministers and central bankers will meet in Washington, where they are expected to confirm a February pledge to avoid competitive devaluations, according to Reuters. The gathering takes place shortly before the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington.

(Read More: Is IMF's Lagarde the World's Most Powerful Woman?)

Federal Reserve officials scheduled to speak include Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and Fed Gov. Sarah Bloom Raskin, who will both speak at the Ford Foundation in New York. Meanwhile, Fed Gov. Jeremy Stein will speak at the IMF conference on financial regulation.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Philadelphia Fed survey, Richmond Fed's Lacker speaks, leading indicators, natural gas inventories Fed Gov. Raskin speaks, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Ebay shareholders mtg, Texas Instruments annual mtg, G20 finance ministers mtg; Earnings from Google, IBM, Microsoft, Capital One, Chipotle, E-Trade Financial
FRIDAY: Fed Gov. Stein speaks, IMF spring mtg; Earnings from GE, McDonald's, Schlumberger, Baker Huges, Honeywell

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