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Futures Hold Gains After Economic News

Futures held their gains Thursday after news weekly jobless claims fell last week, adding to optimism following stronger-than-expected profit from bank titan JPMorgan.

JPMorgan shares rose, helping to turn around what had looked like a negative market open. The company reported earnings per share of $1.27, six cents ahead of expectations as the absence of a British tax on bonuses helped improve the bottom line.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims dropped 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 405,000, the lowest level in almost three months, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected jobless claims to fall to 415,000.

Meanwhile, producer prices in June posted their biggest decline since Feb. 2010 as energy prices eased. The producer price index fell 0.4 percent, following a 0.2 percent rise in May, according to the Labor Department.

And retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in June, according to the Commerce Department, after dipping 0.1 percent in May. Economists had forecast sales slipping 0.1 percent according a a poll from Reuters.

May business inventories are reported at 10 am ET.

Italy sold long-term bonds in a closely-watched auction where the yield on its 5-year bonds was the highest since 2008, fueling concerns that the country has been sucked into the debt crisis and will not be able to sustain its debt burden.

Earlier, investors had shrugged off news that Moody’scould lower the United States’ top rating if lawmakers fail to agree on raising the debt ceiling and instead looked ahead to a slew of economic data.

Moody’s said it saw the risk of a default as Congress struggles to find a deal to cut the deficit.

President Obama ended a meeting Wednesday and White House debt talks will be resumed at 4:15 pm ET on Thursday.

Futures also got a lift on news that oil giant ConocoPhillips is splitting the company into two divisions, with refining and marketing in one and exploration and production in the other. Shares rose more than 10 percent premarket.

After the close, investors will shift their attention to Google’s earnings.

News Corp is also among stocks in focus. Shares in the company rose after the company walked away from its bid for BSkyB on Wednesday.

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Business inventories, 30-yr bond auction, money supply, NPD video games sales; Earnings from Google
FRIDAY: CPI, Empire state mfg survey, industrial production, consumer sentiment, credit card default rates reported, Dell shareholder mtg; Earnings from Citigroup and Mattel

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