US Markets

US markets set to build on gains

US stocks poised to extend gains

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Thursday, building on Wednesday's rally which saw major averages gain more than 1.5 percent by the close after a tumultuous week of trade so far.

The flow of top-tier releases also continues, ahead of Friday's key jobs report. The August ISM non-manufacturing index is due at 10:00 a.m. ET, together with the full trade report for July and the weekly jobless claims figures, both due at 08:30 a.m.

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The ISM non-manufacturing index is expected to slip back slightly from July's elevated reading of 60.3, which was the highest in almost a decade, to about 58, still very high by both recent and historical standards according to analysts.

Friday's job numbers is the last monthly employment report before the U.S. Federal Reserve meets later on in the month, when an announcement on interest rates is widely anticipated.

"The mention in the Fed's Beige Book of some signs of wage growth was enough to give the dollar a bit of a lift heading into the Asian session and ahead of today's non-manufacturing ISM data. The impression is that the Fed remains on track to get the rate cycle underway barring a shock. The big question of course is whether the Chinese-inspired risk sell-off in recent weeks is a big enough shock to justify a delay regardless of the U.S. data in the days ahead," said global macro strategist at Societe Generale, Kit Juckes.

U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday, partly recovering from the worst start to September in 13 years, as investors eyed calmer global markets, domestic data, and oil prices.

Energy prices have seen extreme moves so far this week. Oil fell on Thursday on a surprise build in U.S. inventory levels and a firm dollar, but a recovery in Asian shares after Wall Street posted decent gains capped losses. Brent crude dropped 31 cents to $50.19 a barrel at around 05:00 a.m. ET, while U.S. crude fell 20 cents to $46.15 a barrel, off the day's low of $45.65.

Earnings due include Medtronic, Campbell Soup, Ciena, Joy Global, and Lands' End before the bell and Cooper Cos. after the close.

Asian stocks mostly recovered on Thursday as investors took heart in a positive finish on Wall Street overnight. Trading was relatively calm compared to previous sessions, with mainland share markets in China closed as the country commemorates the end of World War II. Chinese stock markets will reopen Monday.

In Europe, stocks rallied as investors awaited the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision. All major bourses were up in the region of 1.5 percent. The ECB's decision and subsequent press conference will be closely watched for any clues on whether the central bank will expand its quantitative easing program in coming months.