Futures surged as the economy provided proof that an economy is under way.
The much-anticipated government report on gross domestic product delivered on hopes that the economy was back in positive territory following a crippling recession. GDP gained in the third quarter at a 3.5 percent clip, ahead of even the healthiest expectations.
At the same time, weekly jobless claims took a small dip, while the four-week moving average considered a more accurate barometer of the employment picture pulled back even more.
Another round of positive earnings results helped boost the market outlook, as Dow component Procter & Gamble and Motorola both reported better-than-expected reports that sent their shares higher. P&G gained 1.4 percent while Motorola was up a healthy 4.9 percent in premarket trading.
On the downside, ExxonMobil disappointed the market with earnings per share of 98 cents, 5 cents below expectation, sending shares down 2 percent premarket.
October—largely a positive month for stocks— is ending with a whimper, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq having lost their gains for the month, and the Dow holding on to a 50-point gain with two trading sessions to go.
Doubts about the U.S. economic recovery are one factor, with some analysts also saying a correction is perfectly natural after the run-up of the past few months.
Thursday's trade could turn in either direction depending on the morning's two economic reports: third-quarter GDP and the weekly report on jobless claims, both out at 8:30 am New York time.
Economists think GDP rose at a 3.2 percent annual rate during the third quarter, compared to a drop of 0.7 percent for the second quarter.
Consensus for jobless claims is for a reading of 525,000 compared to 531,000 last week.
It should be noted that Goldman Sachs cut its GDP forecast yesterday to 2.7 percent from 3.0 percent, and that it made a similar last-minute move prior to the most recent employment report. Its revised forecast in that instance turned out to be prescient.
Other events on the calendar today include a speech by National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers in New York at 12:15 pm New York time, and a $31 billion dollar auction of 7-year Treasury notes, with results available shortly after 1pm.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and other regulators will be testifying before the House Financial Services Committee this morning on proposed financial regulation changes.
At 10:30 am New York time, we'll get the usual weekly report from the Energy Department on natural gas inventories.
Also highlighting this morning's earnings calendar:
Aetna; Allergan; Autonation; Avon Products (AVP); Colgate-Palmolive; CME Group; Eastman Kodak (EK); Expedia (EXPE); Kellogg; Moody's; Motorola; Monster Worldwide (MWW); Mylan Labs (MYL); Newmont Mining (NEM); Office Depot (ODP); Procter & Gamble (PG); Sprint Nextel; Smith International (SII); Waste Management (WM); Williams Cos.(WMB); and Exxon Mobil (XOM).