Wall Street was heading for a mixed open, after a steep drop in jobless claims help offset some negative news on earnings.
The number of workers filing new unemployment claims dropped to their lowest level since January, but Labor Department officials warned that the numbers were skewed by an unusually low number in the auto layoffs that traditionally happen this time of year.
Compared to fair value, Dow futures were pointing higher, while the S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq was still in negative territory following the release of the jobs numbers.
Investors got a mixed bag of earnings reports to start the day.
JP Morgan reported second-quarter earnings of $2.7 billion, or 28 cents per share on revenue of $28 billion. Pre-market shares of the investment bank gained about 1 percent.
Futures had been lower on concern over the likely impending bankruptcy of CIT Group dampening the mood of investors.
CIT says talks with the government about possible aid for the troubled commercial lender have ended, and CNBC reported a Chapter 11 filing is likely by Friday.
Nokia earnings also were weighing on futures after the company beat estimates but cut its outlook for second-half profit. Shares fell 9.4 percent premarket.
Marriott also dropped after it said net income fell 76 percent in the second quarter. The hotelier's shares fell 3.7 percent premarket.
And Harley-Davidson also disappointed Wall Street when it reported that earnings fell 91 percent and the company would have to lay off 1,000 workers and cut shipments.
Wednesday's strong rally put Wall Street in territory it hadn't seen in quite a while: the Nasdaq finished at its highest since October 6, while the Dow and the Nasdaq had their biggest one-day percentage gains since April 9.
The Nasdaq is now riding a six-session winning streak during which it's gained 6.7 percent, and it now leads the major averages with a year-to-date gain of 18.1 percent.
Earnings will be a significant influence on market action, with investors hearing from Charles Schwab, while IBM and Google lead the list of companies set to report after the closing bell this afternoon.
It's also a heavy day for economic releases: the Labor Department's weekly report on first time claims for unemployment benefits is out at 8:30 am New York time, with economists looking for initial claims of 555,000. That would be down from last week's reading of 565,000.
At 9 am, the Treasury issues the so-called "TIC" data, measuring capital inflows and outflows to and from the U.S. The widely followed Philadelphia Fed index is issued at 10am ET, while the National Association of Home Builders has its monthly sentiment index for July at 1 pm.
Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson will testify before a House panel today on the controversial circumstances surrounding Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch last year. Paulson's testimony was released yesterday, so attention will largely center on the q-and-a session.
- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC.com