Futures indicated a higher open for Wall Street on Thursday as investors were encouraged by the latest jobless report and round of corporate earnings.
Jobless claimes rose by 25,000 last week to 584,000 but investors were encouraged as talk on the Street put the number as high as 600,000. Plus, the four week-moving average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell to its lowest level since Jan. 24. And continuing claims were the lowest since April.
The world's biggest provider of fixed telecoms equipment Alcatel-Lucent reported an earnings loss for the second quarter but said it hoped to be "moderately profitable" in 2010.
Royal Dutch Shelland BT Groupboth reported earnings above analysts' expectations.
After relatively little movement from stocks the past two days, the heaviest earnings day of the week may well provide Wall Street with stronger momentum — either positive or negative.
The market saw positive earnings reports from Colgate-Palmolive and Motorola, among others. Motorla shares gained 3.5 percent in premarket trading after the company reported falling revenue but a stronger cash position, while Colgate said cost-cutting helped stave off pressure from weaker consumer spending.
Dow Chemical shares fell 1.5 percent premarket after the company posted an after-charges loss even though it called a bottom in the economy.
Travelers posted its first earnings report since being added to the Dow 30 and said profit fell about 20 percent.
Thursday's before-the-bell list of earnings is a very long one — including: Cigna, Eastman Kodak, Goodyear, Kellogg, MasterCard and ExxonMobil.
The after-the-bell list for today includes: Dow component Walt Disney and MetLife.
Among Wednesday's after-the-bell earnings reports that may move stocks this morning: software provider Symantec's quarterly profit came in one cent shy of estimates at 35 cents a share, while Visa reported profit of 67 cents a share, three cents above consensus.
At 10:30 am New York time, the Energy Department releases the weekly report on natural gas inventories.
The Treasury will auction 7-year notes today, following a relatively strong auction of 2-year notes Tuesday and a somewhat weak auction of 5-year notes yesterday. Once again, we'll get the results shortly after 1 pm New York time.
- Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.