U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open as investors shift through tons of quarterly earnings reports and jobless claims data, read the tea leaves on coronavirus stimulus talks, and look ahead to the final presidential debate Thursday night. Wall Street was pacing for a weekly loss as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq logged another session of declines Wednesday. However, all three stock benchmarks were still up for the month of October, bouncing higher after a dismal September.
The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported 787,000 new filings for unemployment benefits for the week ending Oct. 17, the lowest number since the early days of the pandemic but still historically at off-the-charts heights. The total reflected a decline of 55,000 initial jobless claims from the downwardly revised 842,000 from the previous week.
As the job market struggles to recover from the economic damage caused by the pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to continue talks Thursday to try to resolve their differences on more stimulus and strike a deal before the Nov. 3 election. Pelosi's office said that negotiators moved "closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation."
Dow stock Coca-Cola jumped over 2.5% in Thursday's premarket after the beverage giant reported better-than-expected adjusted third-quarter earnings of 55 cents per share. Revenue fell 9% to $8.65 billion, but that was still higher than analyst expectations. The partial reopening of theaters and restaurants helped the company's results.
Shares of AT&T rose more than 2% in the premarket after the company matched estimates with adjusted quarterly earnings of 76 cents per share. Revenue, which dropped 5% to $42.3 billion, beat expectations. AT&T said revenue was dragged down during the pandemic in all businesses. However, it highlighted strong wireless growth and subscriber numbers for HBO and HBO Max.
American Airlines shares fell 2% in premarket trading after the carrier said it lost $5.54 per share. That was a smaller loss than expected. Revenue also exceeded expectations, but it dropped 73% to $3.17 billion. American expects its cash burn rate to fall to $25 million to $30 million per day during the current quarter from $44 million during the third quarter.
Shares of Southwest Airlines gained about 1% in the premarket after the company reported an adjusted third-quarter loss of $1.99 per share, smaller than estimates. Revenue dropped 68% to $1.79 billion but exceeded expectations. The airline trimmed its Q3 cash burn to an average of $16 million a day from $23 million a day in the second quarter.
Shares of Tesla, already up more than 400% in 2020, jumped 5% in the premarket, the morning after the electric auto maker reported its fifth straight quarter of profits. Tesla best estimates in the third quarter with adjusted per-share earnings of 76 cents and revenue of $8.77 billion. The company already reported that it delivered a record 139,300 vehicles during the quarter.
On the post-earnings analyst call, Tesla's CFO acknowledged that third-quarter results were helped by better-than-expected regulatory credit sales. Next year and in 2022, Tesla plans to spend far more than it previously forecast, $2.5 billion, especially on new factories and expansion. It completed a 5-for-1 stock split during the quarter.
President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are set to take part in their final debate Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee. Biden leads in national and swing state polls, though in six battleground states tracked by CNBC and Change Research some of those leads have been narrowing. Trump, who staged a remarkable comeback in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, believes he can do it again. To that end, the president has been holding rallies in swing states while Biden has been stepped off the campaign trail to prepare for the debate.
Less than two weeks before Election Day, national security officials said Wednesday evening that Iran and Russia obtained information about American voters' registrations and that they're trying to influence public opinion. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Iran has been sending "spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite unrest and damage" Trump.
Shares of AstraZeneca were steady in Thursday's premarket trading, one day after closing lower on news that a Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer in Brazil died. The University of Oxford, which is developing the vaccine with AstraZeneca, said "there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial." A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer had been a part of the group getting the shot.
The U.S. regulators who will decide the fate of coronavirus vaccines are set to hold a meeting Thursday to debate whether the FDA's guidelines for drug makers are rigorous enough. The government has spent billions of dollars in a race for a vaccine despite a research process that usually takes years. The FDA has also faced unprecedented pressure from the Trump administration, fueling public skepticism that politics could overrule science.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.