U.S. stocks were set for a higher open on Thursday as strong corporate earnings and outlooks supported optimism about the pace of the economic recovery.
General Electric Co
Morgan Stanley, the second-largest U.S. investment bank, rose 1.8 percent to $26.50 after reporting its first-quarter results.
However, futures trimmed gains after government data showed new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits, despite falling last week, held above the key 400,000 level.
Does it really change the trend of the employment market? No, the trend still seems to be slightly improving but at a very slow rate, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.
The news today on the earnings front is quite good.
Other economic data due on Thursday includes leading indicators for March, February home prices and the Philadelphia Fed's index of business conditions for the mid-Atlantic region for April are expected at 10 a.m.
S&P 500 futures added 5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 37 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 19.5 points.
Fellow Dow component Travelers Cos Inc
Volume is expected to remain light on Thursday before a three-day weekend. U.S. markets are closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)