Futures Pare Gains After Jobless Claims

Stock index futures pared gains after the government reported jobless claims remain above 400,000.

Futures had been up sharply on a series of strong earnings reports beginning with Apple's forecast-beating results after the market closed Wednesday.

Initial claims for unemployment fell by 13,000 to 403,000 last week from an upwardly revised level of 416,000 the week before, the Labor Department said. The government had previously reported claims were 412,000.

The four-week moving average of claims rose 2,250 to 399,000. The four-week average has now been below that level for eight weeks.

Technology stocks sparked a rally in the markets on Wednesday, sending the Dow to a nearly 3-year high.

The tech rally continued after the market closed when Appledelivered results powered by sales of iPhones and Macs that easily topped what analysts had expected.

On Thursday, Morgan Stanley gained despite a drop in profit as its results beat expectations.

General Electric - a minority shareholder in CNBC - reported first-quarter earnings above analyst forecasts and raised its quarterly dividend by 1 cent to 15 cents.

Travelers rose after reporting a 30 percent jump in profitsthanks to a gain in investment income. Net profit rose to $839 million, or $1.92 a share from $647 million, or $1.25 a share, a year earlier. The insurer raised its dividend 14 percent to 41 cents a share.

McDonald's fell despite beating expectations on strong sales throughout all regions.

And Verizon fell despite reporting strong growth, helped by sales of the iPhone.

In other earning news, Dow component also beat earnings estimateson both the top and bottom lines after the bell on Wednesday.

And Dupont gained after reporting a 27 percent rise in quarterly profitsthanks to double-digit sales growth in all of its business units. The chemical company also raised its 2011 guidance.

Also on the economic front, the Philadelphia Fed Survey and the index of leading indicators will be released at 10 a.m.

In other company news, BP has filed a lawsuit against Halliburton , which cemented the blown-out well which caused the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and agains the rig's owner Transocean.

And Italian carmaker Fiat has agreed to pay $1.27 billionfor another 16 percent stake in Chrysler.

On Tap Next Week:

THURSDAY: Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, money supply, Citigroup shareholders meeting; earnings from Advanced Micro and Capital One after-the-bell.
FRIDAY: Good Friday—All markets closed, banks open.

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