U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, after news emerged that House Republicans are considering a short-term increase to the government’s debt ceiling to buy time for negotiations on big-picture policy issues.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.69 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.81 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.75 percent.
U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday signaled that they are willing to consider raising the government's borrowing limit in the short term to head off a crisis before the Oct. 17 deadline after which the U.S. government would begin defaulting on its debt if the limit is not raised. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify on Thursday morning before the Senate Committee on Finance over the debt ceiling issue.
With the deadline fast approaching and the government shutdown extending to its tenth day, President Barack Obama and House Republicans had a series of meeting on Wednesday to find a way to end the deadlock. And, Obama, who is scheduled to meet with Republicans on Thursday, said on Wednesday that he would endorse a short-term increase to the debt ceiling and a stop-gap budget, as proposed by the House Republicans, if the proposal comes without any strings attached.
On Thursday, investors are also likely to focus on the initial jobless claims report, which is scheduled to be released by the Department of Labor at 8:30 a.m. EDT and measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week. Economists predict that claims are likely to increase to 310,000 for the week ended Oct. 5, marginally up from 308,000 in the previous week.
Meanwhile, economists expect continuing jobless claims data, which measure the number of unemployed individuals who qualify for benefits under unemployment insurance, to show a marginal drop to 2.900 million from the 2.925 million recorded in the previous week.
In Europe, markets traded higher on Thursday on reports that the U.S. Congress is open to a short-term increase in the debt-ceiling limit. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 1.03 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.89 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was up 1.17 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading up 1.47 percent.
In Asia, markets traded mostly down with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 losing 0.11 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index ended down 0.94 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.36 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index lost 0.07 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.1 percent in late-afternoon trade. Japan’s Nikkei ended the day up 1.12 percent as the yen weakened against the dollar.