US Markets

Futures signal lower open after stellar Fed Wednesday

U.S. stock-index futures indicated a lower opening on Thursday after stocks surged on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it would start cutting its stimulus.

On Thursday, stock futures remained mildly lower after the government reported initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 last week to 379,000. Economists in a consensus survey expected initial claims to dip by 18,000 to 350,000. Existing-home sales data is expected at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

The Fed said it would start to taper its bond-buying program to $75 billion a month from $85 billion, an initial move to unwinding the stimulus that the central bank began to help the economy heal from the recession.

At a news conference, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank would likely make similar moderate steps at future meetings so long as the data support such moves.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 292.71 points, or 1.8 percent, to 16,167.97, surpassing its November 27 record. The S&P 500 rose 29.65 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,810.65, also a record finish.

"The true test of whether markets and the economy can handle the taper process will probably only be known in the first half of next year but for now markets like the way the Fed has handled what was becoming an increasingly inevitable first move," wrote Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid in a morning note.

"We still have our doubts whether you can get from $85 billion/month to zero without causing a problem somewhere in this still fragile global economy with low nominal growth and high debts."

European equities were sharply higher in morning trade on Thursday as investors also digested the news from the Fed, while Asian stocks were mostly higher, with Chinese shares under performing on fears of tight liquidity.