Futures Rise as Debt Contagion Fears Ease


U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Thursday as fears of contagion from the European debt crisis eased.

Futures held their ground following a government report showing that jobless claims improved slightly over the past week, wit 448,000 new filings compared to expectations of 445,000.

European shares were higher after two sessions of declines as Spain joined the growing list of European countries having debt downgrads Wednesday. Asian indexes ended mixed.

"Our view is that (the debt crisis) will not impact the global economic recovery, it will not derail it," Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners, told CNBC. 

"What you really want to be doing if you're a long-term investor is positioning your portfolio for that continued growth. You want to be overweighted the earlier cyclical sectors," Pavlik said.

The stock market's recent down days have proved much more decisive than its up days. The Dow has risen for 13 of the past 15 sessions. But its gains for the positive sessions total about 487 points, while its losses for the two negative sessions total 339 points.

Before the opening bell, the latest earnings will be release from Aetna, Apache, Becton Dickinson, Bristol-Myers, Cardinal Health, Colgate-Palmolive, ConocoPhillips, Dominion, Eastman Kodak, Fortune Brands, Starwood Hotels, International Paper, Interpublic, Kellogg, Motorola, Mylan, Occidental Petroleum, Procter & Gamble, Safeway, Time Warner Cable, Viacom, Waste Management, and Exxon Mobil.

Group of Securities

Shares of Palm soared more than 25 percent in global trading on news that it's being acquired by Hewlett-Packard in a deal worth roughly $1 billion.

Meanwhile, shares of Visa edged higher in pre-market trading after the credit-card issuer beat expectations with its second-quarter earnings report.

Also on the economic calendar, the Environmental Investigation Agency is out with the weekly natural gas inventory report at 10:30 am, while the Treasury will auction $32 billion in 7-year notes later, with the results available shortly after 1 pm.

In other news: Senate Republicans dropped their opposition to letting the financial regulation reform bill proceed to the Senate floor for debate. President Obama is urging quick passage of the bill, but Republicans are vowing to implement the changes they want on the floor.