Futures Push Higher on Economic Optimism

Stock index futures pointed to a higher opening for Wall Street after a strong reading on productivity and an easing in jobless claims helped cheer investors during a choppy week of trading.

The major averages are coming off their second consecutive mixed sessions, with a late selloff Wednesday wiping out what had been strong gains. Stocks remained strong after the Federal Open Market Committee's latest pledge to keep interest rates low for an extended period, but a vote in Washington to limit credit card rates raised concerns about bank earnings and helped pare much of those gains.

In economic news, non-farm productivity in rose at its fastest pace in six years while new jobless claims and the four-week moving average of claims fell to 10-month lows.

In retail sales, some of the leading chains reported sales ahead of expectations for October as the market looks for clues to what is ahead for the holiday shopping season.

But the market interpreted the retail news on balance as negative, sending the SDPR S&P Retail exchange traded fund down nearly 1 percent in premarket trading.

Elsewhere, the Bank of England and European Central Bank both held steady on their key lending rates, as expected.

At 10:30 am, the Energy Department will release its weekly report on natural gas inventories.

Companies set to release earnings this morning include Cardinal Health, Cigna, CVS Caremark, Dr Pepper Snapple, King Pharmaceuticals, Nasdaq OMX, Sara Lee, Time Warner Cable, and Wendy's/Arby's Group.

Among those scheduled to release earnings after the closing bell: Activision Blizzard, CBS, JDS Uniphase, Nvidia, Starbucks, Sunoco, and VeriSign.


Dow component Cisco is a stock to watch this morning after its quarterly earnings beat Wall Street estimates.

Toyota is cutting its full year loss forecast in half, as stimulus programs around the world - both those specific to autos and to economies as a whole - boost sales.

Hyatt Hotels begins trading today after its IPO of 38 million shares priced at $25 a share, within the expected range.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk