Stock index futures rose on Thursday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its first weekly gain in the last three, as strong corporate earnings and outlooks generated optimism about the economic recovery.
General Electric Co
Morgan Stanley, the second-largest U.S. investment bank, rose 2.7 percent to $26.75 after reporting its first-quarter results.
It is all about earnings -- and not only are earnings strong, but the guidance is strong, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
We are going to see unemployment claims this morning, some economic data this morning, but for the time being, earnings take central stage and at least in the early morning opening are going to dominate.
Economic data due on Thursday includes weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m., while 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 8 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 64 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 25.25 points.
Fellow Dow component Travelers Cos Inc
Hamburger chain McDonald's
Volume is expected to remain light on Thursday ahead of the extended holiday weekend. U.S. markets are closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.
European shares advanced for a third straight session to hit a one-week high, with a raft of forecast-beating company results improving market sentiment and boosting chemical and technology stocks.
Asian stocks jumped as investors scrambled for higher-yielding assets, particularly in emerging markets.
Big earnings surprises gave a positive turn to investor sentiment on Wednesday, propelling U.S. stocks to their best day in a month and lifting the Dow industrials to their highest in almost three years.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)